Horse Racing Ireland Guide – Everything You Need to Know

Horse racing is one of the most historic sports around, dating back as far as 648 BC. Today, horse racing remains as popular as ever, with meetings taking place daily. Ireland is undoubtedly one of the leading nations, having produced some of the best-known runners, jockeys and trainers over the years. Horse racing Ireland is big business, with meetings from Leopardstown, Down Royal and other famous tracks attracting the interest of millions. Our Irish horse racing guide will look at everything from standout events, tips and how to read betting odds.


Results in Horse Racing 

As with most sports, horse racing is all about winning. Horses, jockeys, trainers and owners with a track record of success will generally grab the attention of fans and betting customers. Horse racing results from across Ireland and other countries will help to determine the odds offered by bookmakers for upcoming meetings. As such, trainers work tirelessly to ensure that their horses are in the best possible shape ahead of races.

Many punters will look for potential outsiders when viewing horse racing results Ireland. Even if a horse doesn’t win, good performances can lead to appearances at higher profile meetings. On the reverse side, if a well-known runner is struggling for form, their odds for future races could well lengthen. Horse racing results Ireland are also useful when two seemingly evenly matched runners are going head to head. For example, ahead of the Irish Grand National, many will be looking at results from warm-up races, 

Horse racing results will generally provide a good amount of information, not only just the winner. Readers will be able to see the final position of all runners, as well as any who failed to finish. Meanwhile, with betting on horse racing being so important to the industry, most results will also come with starting prices. Selected online bookies offer dedicated horse racing results pages, which should not be overlooked by punters in Ireland. 

Horse Racing Cards 

For beginners, horse racing cards can be a little overwhelming. To the naked eye, a huge amount of information is available. Whether it be on with an online bookie or at the racecourse itself, racecards can be useful when it comes to backing a winner. Runners are accompanied by information including their jockey, trainer and potentially even the owner. Meanwhile, their number will match with the one on their saddlecloth. 

Horse Racing Ireland card

Such detail is especially important when handicap races are in question. Simply put, the higher the number, the closer to the top weight the runner in question will be on race day. When discussing conditions races, horses are more likely to be listed in alphabetical order. Some bookies will go one step further by delivering the recent form of runners. Their recent finishes will be displayed, with the most recent being last in the sequence. 

On horse racing betting sites Ireland, it may well also be possible to see how the odds have shifted. For example, 11/4>3/1>10/3. We will discuss horse racing betting odds in more detail later on. However, details on racecards are generally catered towards those looking to wager on the race. Racecards on horse racing Ireland today are available on a number of platforms. 

Horse Racing Calendar 

Horse races take place across Ireland on a daily basis. However, professional races are not held at random. There is a strict calendar, with runners and riders even competing on Boxing Day. Unlike other sports, such as football, there is no break in the action with horse racing. This is good news for fans of the sport. Although, it does place great pressure on those involved, including trainers and jockeys. 

Of course, meetings are occasionally forced to be postponed or even canceled. This can be due to adverse weather, while many high profile races did not take place during the Coronavirus pandemic. While it is rarely an issue in Ireland, some racecourses can get too hot during the summer months, meaning that they require watering by ground staff. 

While the horse racing calendar is made up of hundreds of meetings, there are certainly some that stand out from the crowd. We will discuss the standout Ireland horse racing meetings later on. 

Big Horse Racing Events in 2022 

The Cheltenham Festival, Grand National and 1,000 Guineas are important meetings for Irish horse racing. However, horse racing Ireland fans can look forward to a large number of high-profile events throughout the year. In order to accommodate the ever-increasing number of races, horse racing action takes place in each month of the year. 

Attention in March is on the Cheltenham Festival, while Irish Champions Weekend is held in September. Most punters in Ireland will be attracted to races in the UK. However, there are also famous races elsewhere, including in the United States, France and Australia. The table below shows the leading horse races in 2022, perfect for those looking to plan ahead:

Horse Racing Events Country Racecourse Type of Horse Racing When
Pegasus World Cup USA Gulfstream Park Flat Dirt January
Dublin Racing Festival Ireland Leopardstown National Hunt February
Saudi Cup Saudi Arabia Riyadh Flat Turf & Dirt February
Cheltenham Festival UK Cheltenham National Hunt March
Dubai World Cup UAE Meydan Flat Turf & Dirt March
Grand National UK Aintree National Hunt April
Punchestown Festival Ireland Punchestown National Hunt April
Kentucky Derby USA Churchill Downs Flat Dirt May
Guineas Weekend UK Newmarket Flat Turf May
Preakness Stakes USA Pimlico Flat Dirt May
Derby Festival UK Epsom Downs Flat Turf June
Belmont Stakes USA Belmont Park Flat Dirt June
Royal Ascot UK Ascot Flat Turf June
July Festival UK Newmarket Flat Turf July
Glorious Goodwood UK Goodwood Flat Turf July
Ebor Festival UK York Flat Turf August
St Leger UK Doncaster Flat Turf September
Irish Champions Weekend Ireland Leopardstown & Curragh Flat Turf September
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe France ParisLongchamp Flat Turf October
QIPCO British Champions Day UK Ascot Flat Turf October
Melbourne Cup Australia Flemington Flat Turf November
Breeders Cup USA Different every year Flat Turf & Dirt November
Winter Carnival UK Newbury National Hunt November
King George VI Chase UK Kempton Park National Hunt December
Christmas Festival Ireland Leopardstown National Hunt December

Irish Horse Racing Fixtures

We have already discussed some of the biggest meetings from around the world. However, for those that are looking for strictly Irish horse racing, there are a number of races to look forward to during the year. Many races are worth hundreds of thousands of Euros, demonstrating just why Irish horse racing is regarded as being arguably the best in the world. The table below provides information on the top Irish horse racing events during the year:

Horse Racing Event Racecourse Type of Race Date Prize Money
Irish Derby Curragh  Flat 25th June, 2022 €690,000
Irish Champion Stakes Leopardstown Flat 10th September, 2022 €890,000
Irish Oaks Curragh  Flat 16th July, 2022 €230,000
Irish 1000 Guineas Curragh Flat 22nd May, 2022 €400,000
Irish 2000 Guineas Curragh Flat 23rd May, 2022 €400,000
Irish Grand National Fairyhouse Steeplechase 18th April, 2022 €500,000

Betting Odds in Horse Racing 

More so than any other sport, horse racing and betting go hand in hand. Odds are discussed openly by broadcasters, something in which you would rarely hear in football, tennis or many other sports. Odds on horse racing are offered by bookmakers and betting exchanges. As a result, it really has never been easier to place bets on runners and riders in Ireland. If you have a good knowledge of the sport, there is regular value to be found, potentially allowing for some significant returns.

Horse racing Ireland odds

Ante post horse racing odds are often introduced months in advance of the race itself. Examples include the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National. Punters will often place bets early, in the hope of taking advantage of the best odds. However, with many online bookies now offering best odds guaranteed promotions, the timing of bets is not as important as it once was.

Horse racing odds are available to view in a number of formats, including fractional, decimal and American. Fractional is the most common in Ireland. Here, the number on the left is what can be won by wagering the amount on the right. For example, a bet at odds of 3/1 would result in total returns of £1, which includes the stake. 

Betting Tips on Horse Racing 

Given the popularity of horse racing betting, it should come as no surprise that there are thousands of tipsters, who offer punters advice on who to back. We are not talking about the bloke down the local pub here! Top tipsters include horse racing broadcasters, former jockeys, trainers and owners. Of course, even the most reliable tipsters cannot say for sure which horse will come out on top. This is part of the fun of betting on races. 

So, how do horse racing fans know which tips to follow? The best tipsters will take into account a wide range of information, before delivering their recommended pick. Details including the going, form, jockeys and trainers are potentially important. Tipsters that suggest a particular runner with little or no research are generally worth avoiding. 

Platforms such as the Racing Post and Sky Sports feature expert tipsters. Even these individuals are not correct all of the time. However, even if you end up ignoring their advice, it is still worthwhile taking note of what they have to say. At SportsLens, we pride ourselves on delivering up to date and carefully thought out horse racing tips. So, be sure to check out our latest tips, which cover a range of meetings from across Ireland.

While not being specific to a particular race, the following horse racing tips give punters the best possible chance of beating the bookies:

  1. Look at Form – As we have outlined on this page already, form guides can often tell punters a great deal about which horses will be battling it out come the closing stages of a race. So, be sure to do your homework before confirming any bets. Useful information is easily accessible online today. 
  2. Don’t Bet On Everything – Given the fact that races get underway every few minutes across the country, there can be a tendency to bet on them all. However, be selective and only bet on races that you have a good understanding of. Using a scattergun approach rarely pays off and will generally result in losses. 
  3. Set a Budget – Remember that horse racing betting is a pastime for entertainment, rather than to pay the bills. Therefore, it is wise to set yourself a budget before getting started, whether it be on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Bets should be placed using a small proportion of your disposable income. Horse racing betting sites Ireland offer deposit limits, helping to ensure responsible gambling.
  4. Utilise Promotions – Whether it be best odds guaranteed, non-runner no bet, free bet or other horse racing offers, be sure to take full advantage of promotions from online bookies. Such offers will help in maximising profits and minimising losses. Just be sure to read the small print beforehand.
  5. Track Your Progress – Be sure to keep a close eye on which type of bets you have had success with, as well as where adjustments can be made. For example, you may regularly back winners at local Irish tracks. Therefore, it is wise to stick to what you know, rather than start betting on races from across the pond.

Horse Racing Betting Terms 

For newcomers to the sport, horse racing can be daunting. This is, in part, due to the number of different terms and phrases used by those in the industry. This is why we have put together a list of the key horse racing terms. So, if you are looking to learn your furlong from your photo finish, be sure to continue reading:

  • All Weather – This is an artificial surface that is found at racecourses including Kempton Park, Lingfield, Polytrack and Tapeta. It is different to both turf and dirt tracks.
  • Bet Slip – A bet slip features horses bet on, as well as the odds given. Physical bet slips are produced by high street and on-site bookmakers. Meanwhile, digital bet slips are also found on horse racing betting sites. Those operating online do not have to worry about losing their bet slip! 
  • Bumper – This is what is known as a National Hunt Flat race. As such, there are no obstacles for runners and riders to overcome. This format of race generally takes place over a distance of around 2 miles. However, horse racing Ireland bumper races can be up to 2 ½ miles. 
  • Classics – The five leading flat races in the UK are known as the Classics. Made up by the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, as well as the Epsom Oaks, Epsom Derby and St Leger, such races attract huge interest from fans and punters alike. Classics are open to colts and fillies aged three. 
  • Dirt – While being more common in the US, some dirt tracks are found in Ireland and other parts of the UK. Here, there is no grass to speak of, with the distance usually being shorter too. Dirt tracks will suit runners who enjoy the going fast and wet. 
  • Furlong – The equivalent of ⅛ of a mile. This is a measurement used in Ireland and across the UK. You will often hear horse racing commentators saying that runners and riders are “approaching the final furlong”. 
  • Going – A description of the track conditions on race day. The course clerk will use a stick to determine the going, with this depending on how far it goes down into the ground. 
  • Handicap – In Ireland, the majority of horse races involve handicaps. This basically means that the highest rated horses will carry the heaviest weight, in order to even the playing field. Each horse is given a handicap ahead of the race, based on their weight. 
  • Headgear – Headgear is used by trainers in order to assist horses and jockeys during races. Cheekpieces and blinkers are the most common, helping to keep the horse focused. Meanwhile, hoods are often worn by horses when in the paddock before races. 
  • Hurdle – As the name suggests, horses must jump hurdles in such races. Hurdles are fixed on some tracks, while temporary panels are used at other racecourses. Hurdle races generally cover a distance of between 2-3 ¼ miles. 
  • Non-Runner – A non-runner is declared when the horse in question does not come under starters orders. Trainers can pull a horse out of a race for a number of reasons, including injuries and the going. 
  • Photo Finish – If two or more horses cross the finishing post at around the same time, a photo finish may well be required in order to determine the winner. In the rare event of judges still not being able to make a decision, the race will be ruled as a dead heat. 
  • Stalls – At some racecourses, horses will begin races by exiting out of stalls, also known as starting gates. Stalls are used to ensure that all entrants begin races on a level playing field. 
  • Steeplechase – Steeplechase races involve runners and riders having to jump fences, which are taller than hurdles. Such races take place over a distance of between 2-4 miles.

Live Horse Racing Commentary

When it comes to Irish horse racing, there is nothing quite like watching the action live. When this is not an option, horse racing commentary is the next best thing. Live horse racing commentary comes from a variety of sources, including radio channels. However, many bookies now offer commentary on Irish horse races, as well as the latest horse racing news. For punters in Ireland, the following betting sites come with live horse racing commentary:

  1. Betfred
  2. Paddy Power
  3. 888Sport  
  4. QuinnBet
  5. SportNation

Final Word on Irish Horse Racing

Our Irish horse racing guide should have given you a much clearer understanding of how the sport works. Our horse racing Ireland page has covered all of the basics, including odds, key events, racecards and tips. So, whether you are looking to take advantage of horse racing betting sites Ireland or if you just can’t get enough of action from the track, be sure to take full advantage of the information given. 

Horse Racing Ireland FAQs

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