Downpatrick Racecourse, positioned about one mile away from the town of Downpatrick in County Down, is regarded as one of the two racing grounds found in Northern Ireland, together with Down Royal. The very first race at Downpatrick was staged in 1685. While Northern Ireland is under the United Kingdom, horse events are run on an All-Ireland basis, so Downpatrick comes under the aegis of Horse Racing Ireland instead of the British Horseracing Authority.
The racecourse, just like many of Ireland's racing facilities, holds both Flat and National Hunt events. The main feature fixture at the prominent racecourse is the Ulster National Handicap 'Chase that is run over a longish distance of 3 miles 4 furlongs. Downpatrick was established by King Charles the second’s 1665 Act of Parliament which established the early rules of horse racing, and the first Irish facility to stage a major meeting under these new rules was Downpatrick in late 1685. This proudly makes this town the earliest consistent site for official rules horse riding competition in the entire Ireland.
Even though the initial racecourse was located close to the present track, it was wholly different in terms of layout, being explained as a horseshoe-shaped course that measured three miles. After a few years, the course was relocated, and this no doubt means the present-day site has held virtually continuous race events for more than three hundred years.Therefore, very few racecourses in Ireland (and even in the entire Europe) are older than Downpatrick Racecourse.
All through its long and illustrious racing history, Downpatrick has hosted numerous outstanding title-winning horses. In 1690, one of the founders of contemporary thoroughbred racehorses, the Byerley Turk, participated in an event at Downpatrick prior to carrying its proud owner Colonel Robert Byerley, to the famed Battle of the Boyne. It is widely said, in the duel, both horse and rider dodged capture because of the horse’s unbeatable speed of foot. In more recent decades, Downpatrick has been numerously included in the widely attended winter campaigns of Grand National and Cheltenham winners. As a result, the established racing amenity has steadily boosted its fame over the years to become one of Ireland’s leading racing facilities.
The current racecourse is found in the stunning countryside of County Down, and its ten-yearly fixtures entail both flat and national hunt racing occasions. The famous racecourse enjoys remarkable local support, but its welcoming atmosphere continues to attract more and more guests from regions that are beyond its Irish location. This is singularly true for the day of the Powers Whisky Ulster National, which happens in February every year. Downpatrick provides both flat and national hunt racing events. Both of its courses are run right-handed on a rather tight track that measures about one mile three furlongs in terms of circumference.
Starting a well-laid-out circuit from the finish line, the racecourse winds around into its longest straight portion then winds again to the smaller straight, bends yet again to a quite similar straight, and then turns into its home turn into a short home straight that measures an estimated one furlong. As such, Downpatrick is one of the best horse riding fields out in the whole of Ireland.
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Contact details: Downpatrick Racecourse, Co. Down, BT30 6TE, Ireland
Tel: 028 4461 2054