At a time when we can all dream of being back on a racecourse with a cold drink and group of friends, there is plenty of time to reflect on great previous experiences and plan the next trips.
One Irish meeting to come out of nowhere and firmly establish itself on the map is the Dublin Racing Festival, with eight Grade Ones over two days in February. Flights are cheap, entrance is cheap and there is plenty of space to move around. In its short history the meeting has already been blessed with stars like Hurricane Fly and it now looks to be an even stronger set of pointer ahead of the Cheltenham Festival than the Festival Trials Day at the end of January at Cheltenham.
Outside of the showpiece Irish events, it’s fun to look at the Goracing.ie data to see which courses have been well-supported by local racegoers in recent years.
Our snapshot of selected racecourses shows that Galway provides by far the most popular fixtures, though they tend to only race on 12 occasions each year.
By contrast, Dundalk race 40 times a year and tend to pull in 1,400 patrons on any given race evening.
The Curragh had an average attendance of 4,167 in 2019 and executives there know they need to do much better on the back of significant investment in the new grandstand. Hopefully they will be able to welcome crowds back in June for the Irish Derby.
Laytown’s beach racing pulls in 6,000-7,000 racegoers for its annual fixture, which is up 30% on the 2012 attendance (though we are sure that weather has a big bearing on that number).
Naas has put a lot of work into the new owners’ stand (pictured above) and various marketing initiatives. Time will tell if they can hit the heights of the early 2000s again.