The sporting centre stages National Hunt races and is, as a result, one of the most popular horse racing facilities in the entire country. Racing activities have taken place at this site since 1732 when a three-day sporting fete took place.
The racecourse is found 1.5km in the western part of the ancient town’s civic centre. The amenity features an oval-shaped right-handed racetrack and measures one-and-a-quarter miles with six flights of consecutive hurdles and seven steeplechase fences in every circuit with a rather steep ascending finish.
The racecourse is principally used to stage jump races. Nonetheless, a number of flat racing functions are also held at this prestigious horse sporting amenity, although they are not as frequent as jump events. Racing normally occurs during the winter months from late October to the very end of March. The track has an outstanding free-draining soil that ideally lends itself to the intricate rigours of winter horse racing. With an estimated 1,500 participants, every season and an average yearly rainfall of about 35 inches the soil require being maintained at its optimum so that it can handle this ongoing plundering by galloping horses during training and competitive track events.
During the first years of the 20th century, the world famous but now deceased Pierce Molony took over the management of the sporting activities from a locally appointed committee. The local committee had been managing the races for several years with the assistance of the prominent Molony family. Although the committee’s managerial job was not exactly praiseworthy, numerous transformations occurred under their stewardship. It is these early redevelopments that safely kept Thurles in the prized category of Ireland’s foremost equestrian sporting facilities of that time.
In those formative years of the 20th century, there were about four important meetings every year. These historically recorded race meetings occurred in February, April, June, and November every year. The neighbouring community was as essential in those days as in the current times. Thurles Racecourse had a mere 20 or so horse stables, and the habit travelling a day prior to racing functions was a common practice of the time. More stables were offered by notable neighbours such as Matty Maher, Mr. Tommy Hickey, a gregarious gentleman named Captain Goodman, and in the town area by prominent names such as Timmy Shelley, Tom Barry as well as Hugh Ryan - the very last supporter being a locally well-known undertaker.
Thurles Racecourse is among very few facilities that were never purpose-built. Instead, the top Irish racing grounds have systematically developed or evolved over the last couple of years. Currently, the only bank that remains is a single, noticeably located near the fourth last fencing. There were no nonstop running rails or even plastic wings, and the hurdles lacked a top padding. However, things have markedly over the last two decades. Currently, Thurles Racecourse is not only one of the most equipped and well-furnished sporting facilities in Ireland but also among the finest racing centres in the whole continent.
Visit Thurles racecourse website here
Contact details: Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Ireland.
Tel: 0504 22253