Beautifully nestled in the very heart of the spectacular midlands, Kilbeggan Racecourse bears one of the authentic success accounts of Irish racing. Kilbeggan Racecourse, a few miles outside the busy town at Loughnagore, is a key part of Westmeath legacy and one of the few landmarks the county can be rightly proud of, but it also testifies to what can be attained with a clear vision, meticulous planning, and unrelenting hard work.
It hasn’t perfectly been all plain running for Kilbeggan since horse racing was first held in the location about 160 years gone, but the contemporary history of one of the most outstanding racecourses in the country has been characterised by astonishing progress, ensuring that the track is one of the most popular anywhere in Ireland and thoroughly pleasant grounds to pass a summer’s sunset watching the Sport of Kings.
So exactly where and when did the racing start at Kilbeggan? A great deal of time ago, on March 9, 1840, to be exact when a g of group of gentlemen brought up an idea to organise a race event in Kilbeggan where the major aspect was a competition for a Challenge Cup, estimated at 40 guineas, with another 10 pounds thrown in for good measure by the competent steward. Between then and 1855, race functions were held at multiple sites around the metropolis, including the current location at Loughnagore, despite the fact that they then failed due to an unfavorable combination of land protest and mass emigration.
Nonetheless, the events were restarted in early 1879 and the very first formal meeting was held over a course at Ballard on April 17 of the same year on a ground provided by the renowned Locke family, owners of the well-known distillery which is still in business in Kilbeggan presently.
Racing fixtures continued there up to 1885 before the activities lapsed yet again. But determination was evidently the order of the day and resumption followed in early 1901 when the events were undertaken again on September 2 of the same year, with a groundbreaking meeting at Loughnagore. And with the unfortunate exception of the anxious period between 1941 and 45, during the globally disrupting Second World War, race functions have been staged at Kilbeggan every year, including 1953 when highflying sporting fanatic, Prince Any Khan, won a celebrated win on a horse with a hard-to-pronounce name, “Ynys”. The ensuing sympathies of the whole country must have deservedly gone out to the unlucky course commentator of the day!
The volunteered committee team survived grave difficulties during the tumultuous 1950s and 60 when the Racing Board stopped financial aid, but during the 70s, there were exceedingly noteworthy developments which lent Kilbeggan Racecourse an enormous boost and thus helped it pave the path for the remarkable success the venue has continuously relished over the past decades.
The greatest move and the one that renders Kilbeggan outstanding among Irish racing spots were ratified in 1971 when it was unanimously decided to switch to all-National Hunt racing and hold no further flat racing events. It was a remarkably bold step and one that numerous people thought would sound the death knell for the racetrack, but it was again one that brought brilliant results and has therefore helped to transform Kilbeggan into what it is currently - the very envy of numerous another racecourse in Ireland and beyond.
Visit Kilbeggan Racecourse Here
Contact details: The Racecourse, Kilbeggan Co. Westmeath, Ireland
Tel: 057 93 32176