Gowran Park racecourse initially opened its great gates to the racing masses on the 16th of June 1914. The race schedule consisted of many flat races and steeplechases under the Irish National Hunt rule; the prize money at that time was set at £130. The experienced stewards at that meeting included high-profile luminaries such as Lord Annaly, the astute Capt. Dermot McCalmont (Whose Grandson Harry continues the McCalmont custom as a Director on Gowran Parks current day Board) and Isaac Bell the famous Huntsman of the Kilkenny Hunt.
As such, Gowran Park Racecourse has been receiving several thousands of enthusiastic fans, racing sightseers, as well as high-flying owners and trainers. Due to its busy star-studded racing calendar, the horseracing facility receives a great deal of media publicity from Ireland and beyond. Gowran’s key track events are not only televised throughout Ireland but also watched on the world’s leading sports channels.
The current race company was established in 1948 and its very first Managing Director was Jack Duggan of the widely known Monster House men’s attire store in Kilkenny. Jack Duggan acted as Chairman over several firsts at Gowran Park including the very first on racecourse commentary in mid-1952 and the very first often-quoted Tote Jackpot in 1966. The first race to be televised was also held, Gowran Park.
Sports historians credit the steady success of the racecourse to the outstanding stewardship of the managing directors and board chairmen. Although its apt location has also been touted as one of the reasons for its growth and unprecedented popularity, the former point cannot be overemphasised since some racecourses that were doing extremely well at the time Gowran Park was struggling took irrecoverable nosedives due to poor management.
The newly established Grandstand and its accompanying facilities were formally unveiled on the 9th of April 2003. The recently set up complex finished at a cost of 3.5 million Euros is the conclusion of a wide-ranging development program sponsored by Horse Racing Ireland, which started with the improvement of the expansive stable yard and the well-laid-out parade ring areas. These developments have so far put Gowran in a prestigious category that includes very few other sporting facilities in the country. With regard to state-of-the-art structures and amenities, Gowran can be matched by very few sporting grounds in the whole of Europe. No wonder the facility attracts increasing thousands of sporting tourists from places as far as The United States and Canada.
In mid-2006, Gowran Park held its maiden Group 3 flat racing event. The elevation of the Denny Cordell Lavarack and Lanwades Stud Fillies Stakes to Group 3 status highlights Gowran Park’s dedication to providing high-quality flat racing.
Other distinguished National Hunt dates include; the long-established The Goffs Thyestes Chase valued at 100,000 euros in January, Red Mills Day in February and the October Festival. In 2006 Gowran Park was also re-grouped as Grade 1 course for National Hunt Meetings for award money purposes. This reflects the fact that Gowran Park stages top-cadre National Hunt racing, primarily during the winter months. Prospective structural enhancements comprise the improvement of the Weight Room area and redesigning of the course’s bookmakers ring.
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Contact details: Gowran Park Golf & Leisure, Gowran, Co Kilkenny, Ireland
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