Horse Racing is probably the most gambled upon sport in Ireland and it is not for nothing that Irish bred and trained horses enjoy success all over the world. It would be impossible in this small section of Gambling.ie to publish details about all the racing fixtures that are held throughout the year as it would be to try to give tips or insights into any particular horses or trainers and besides, there are enough newspapers or magazines who specialize in the field and there are more than enough tipsters out there who will gladly take your money for a bit of advice. We shall therefore focus on some information which we hope might be useful. Firstly, Irish Racecourses and where they are. There are 26 racecourses in Ireland which is the most per head of population in the world and in alphabetical order they are:-
Ballinrobe, Bellewstown, Clonmel, Cork Mallow, Curragh, Down Royal, Downpatrick, Dundalk, Fairyhouse, Galway, Gowran Park, Kilbeggan, Killarney, Laytown, Leopardstown, Limerick, Listowel, Naas, Navan, Punchestown, Roscommon, Sligo, Thurles, Tipperary, Tramore and Wexford and their locations are shown on the map. You are never far from a racecourse in Ireland.
In the UK there are another 60 racecourses so it is not surprising that there are race meetings and therefore betting opportunities nearly every day of the year. These are the UK courses in alphabetical order:-
Aintree, Ascot, Ayr, Bangor on Dee, Bath, Beverley, Brighton, Carlisle, Cartmel, Catterick, Cheltenham, Chepstow, Chester, Doncaster, Epsom, Exeter, Fakenham, Ffos Las, Folkestone, Fontwell, Goodwood, Great Leighs (AW), Hamilton, Haydock, Hereford, Hexham, Huntingdon, Kelso, Kempton, Kempton (AW), Leicester, Lingfield, Lingfield (AW), Ludlow, Market Rasen, Musselburgh, Newbury, Newcastle, Newmarket, Newmarket (July), Newton Abbot, Nottingham, Perth, Plumpton, Pontefract, Redcar, Ripon, Salisbury, Sandown, Sedgefield, Southwell, Southwell (AW), Stratford, Taunton, Thirsk, Towcester, Uttoxeter, Warwick, Wetherby, Wincanton, Windsor, Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton (AW), Worcester, Yarmouth, York.
There are two main categories of horse racing gambling which in simple terms are flat racing and jumps racing. Jumps racing or National Hunt racing as it is also known is further split into Hurdles and Fences also known as Steeple Chases. Hurdles are wooden fences of a minimum height of 3 feet 6 inches whereas fences can be a variety of obstacles such as a plain fence which must be a minimum of 4 feet 6 inches on the take off side, a water jump which is a fence of minimum height 3 feet with water on the landing side or an open ditch which as the name suggests is a fence of minimum height 4 feet 6 inches with a ditch. Just to confuse the issue a little further there is also a category called a National Hunt flat race which is for younger jumping horses to give them the experience of a race without having to complete the jumps. All of the tracks mentioned above have either flat racing or jumps racing and indeed some have both. The designation AW in brackets indicates that the racecourse has an all weather track instead of grass which is for flat racing only and which enables racing to take place when other racecourses would be closed due to weather or underfoot conditions. Generally speaking it is flat racing which carries the most prize money and the horses are the most expensive with racing taking place all over Europe as well as the USA and the Far East. There are five so called “Classics” each year which are open to 3 year old horses and they are:-
– The 1000 Guineas which is run over 1 mile at Newmarket in England and is for either colts or fillies who are 3 years old.
– The 2000 Guineas which is also run over 1 mile at Newmarket but is open to 3 year old follies only.
The Oaks which is run over 1.5 miles at Epsom in the south of England and is also only open to 3 year old fillies.
– The Derby which is an identical race except that it open to both colts and fillies and lastly
The St Leger which is run over 1.75 miles and takes place at Doncaster and is for 3 year old colts and fillies.
Of course in Ireland we have our own equivalents of the 1000 and 2000 Guineas which are similar races but run at the Curragh usually in May, the Irish Derby which is also run at the Curragh in June and the Irish Oaks at the same track in July. Incidentally the Irish Gold Cup is run at the same meeting as the 1000 and 2000 guineas.
Other flat races of note take place in Dubai and the USA where prize money is well worth the expense of travelling large distances with a special horse.
Flat racing is definitely for younger horses whilst jumps racing is for the older horses whose stamina has developed but they have lost or possibly never had the speed required for sprints. There are very few horses that manage to be successful in both forms of the sport or sports gambling and the same can be said for the jockeys.
Jumps racing usually takes place outside the summer months although there is considerable overlap between the flat and the jump seasons. The biggest single race in the jumps calendar and the one on which most money is staked is the Grand National which is run at Aintree near Liverpool; it is run over a course of more than 4 miles in length with some of the biggest obstacles around to be negotiated. Up to 40 horses can take part in the race which makes it look like the Charge of the Light Brigade but usually less than half of them finish the race. It is a great race for gambling as there is a very good chance that winners can come from the outsiders at very good odds. The Irish equivalent is the Irish National which is run at Fairyhouse in April each year and has a prize fund in excess of €250000 which is good money. The biggest meeting in the jumps calendar is the Cheltenham Festival which is a four day meeting with many valuable prizes up for grabs many of which are often won by Irish horses, trainers or jockeys.
The longest meeting in the horse racing calendar takes place in Galway and it is the summer festival which provides no less than seven days of racing.
Horse Racing has been called the Sport of Kings and it is one of the most popular gambling sports in Ireland.