Everything you need to know about the Curragh racecourse
Last updated & tested: 2020-01-13
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The first recorded Curragh races took place in 1727, but sport involving horses clearly predates this. Just look at the Gaelic roots of the name. Cuirreach translates as place of the running horse, so that tells you everything. This right-handed track is a horseshoe shape about two miles in length situated on a plain in County Kildare, Ireland that lies between Kildare and Newbridge. Kildare itself is about 30 miles west of Dublin, so Curragh horse racing is one of the many courses situated relatively nearby the capital out in the countryside which surrounds it on three sides.
Despite the extensive history relating to horses here, official designation of The Curragh in Ireland as a place for training and racing only came in 1868. It is the premier track for Flat horses in the Emerald Isle as all five Irish Classics – the 2000 and 1000 Guineas, Oaks, Derby and St Leger – are all held there. That means Curragh racing results command the utmost respect form wise and it also hosts one of the two days of Irish Champions Weekend in September, following the opening day at Leopardstown. The vast majority of Ireland’s Group 1 races are run at The Curragh, so it’s not unusual to see top-class British and French thoroughbreds taking on domestically trained horses in such events.
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The Curragh racecourse upcoming events to bet on
Broadly speaking, Curragh races take place from May through to Irish Champions Weekend in mid-September and there are almost 20 racedays in those four months. While there trial runs for the Irish Classics, it’s those five races and the other Group 1s which are the main events of interest to punters. Let’s take a look at what Curragh racecourse upcoming events they have in store…
Irish Guineas weekend mirrors English equivalent
Just as the first weekend in May in the UK is when Newmarket have their Guineas Festival, the last weekend of the month sees some of Ireland’s top three-year-olds tackle their first Classics of the campaign over 1m. As in Suffolk, the colts take centre stage first on the Saturday with the Irish 2000 Guineas. Nine horses have doubled up and won both Guineas on either side of the Irish Sea, the first being Right Tack in 1969. Famous Irish 2000 Guineas winners include Sadler’s Wells, Rock Of Gibraltar, Dubawi, Mastercraftsman, Kingman and Gleneagles.
The Irish 1000 Guineas follows on the Sunday and is for fillies only. Just three have done the double and followed-up on Newmarket success; they are Attraction, Finsceal Beo and Winter. You have to remember that changes to the racing calendar in relatively recent times have made it more possible to run in both 1000 Guineas events in the British Isles. Supporting this second Irish Classic is another Group 1, the Tattersalls Gold Cup – an extended 1m 2f contest open to four-year-olds and up. There have been three dual winners of this older horses’ event; Yankee Gold, So You Think and Al Kazeem.
Irish Derby centrepiece of three-day festival
There’s a curious symmetry with the UK again when it comes to Ireland’s premier Classic, the Irish Derby. The English equivalent at Epsom is run on the first Saturday in June, yet across the Irish Sea this Derby is held on the last Saturday of the month on the middle day of three days of horse racing action. While the Friday card is a little more low key compared to Epsom, this is because the Irish Oaks has its own separate meeting in July which we’ll talk about shortly.
The Irish Derby as we know it today – a 1m 4f test for three-year-olds – was first run in 1872, with previous renewals (from 1866) over 1m 6f. A total of 18 have won both the Epsom and Irish Derbies which is a surprisingly large amount of dual Classic heroes relative to those successful in doing the 2000 Guineas double. Nijinsky, who also landed English Flat racing’s Triple Crown, is perhaps the most famous two-time Derby winner. Shergar is also on this list of all-time greats, alongside Galileo, Camelot and Hazrand among others.
Fillies (and mares) aren’t completely out of the picture, however, as the Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes headlines the Sunday of the Irish Derby Festival. This is a 1m 2f test open to three-year-olds and up. Older horses must give weight-for-age and just two have won this race more than once; Dance Design and Alexander Goldrun. The Group 2 Curragh Cup also takes place on this day and is over the same course and distance as the Irish St Leger, so this can often be a key trial for that Classic which is somewhat unique. More on that to follow.
Irish Oaks a midsummer hit in July
As we mentioned above, the Irish Oaks isn’t held at the same meeting as the Derby like in the English equivalents at Epsom. Three-year-old fillies contesting the 1m 4f Classic must wait until the middle of July before taking their chance at The Curragh. Among those in recent times to follow-up here on Epsom success are Ouija Board, Snow Fairy and Enable. The Irish Oaks meeting is over two days with supporting group races happening across both cards as is the case for other Classics.
Phoenix Stakes gives juvenile sprinters chance to shine in August
We haven’t talked much about the plethora of races for two-year-olds that take place at The Curragh. The most illustrious of those is the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes over 6f that traditionally takes place in the middle of August on a Sunday. This premier juvenile event used to be held at Phoenix Park in Dublin itself, but since the racecourse closed there it moved to Leopardstown and then its current home in 2002. There’s an illustrious roll of honour attached to the Phoenix Stakes and many of the two-year-olds lucky enough to win it have gone on to even bigger and better things.
Irish Champion Trials Weekend
Before we come to the end of the season, there’s also a couple of days of action where hopefuls for Irish Champions Weekend get a prep run. This tends to be towards the end of August and the cards include the Group 3 Irish St Leger Trial – like the Curragh Cup a 1m 6f event over the same course and distance as the final Classic of the year itself. There are also other group races for juveniles on the Sunday and a test for older horses in the form of the Group 3 Royal Whip Stakes over 1m 2f.
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Day two of Irish Champions Weekend headlined by Irish St Leger
And so to the final day of The Curragh races. There are four Group 1 races on the Sunday of Irish Champions Weekend in mid-September. The Flying Five Stakes is an elite sprint over 5f won by the same horse, Benbaun, in three consecutive years between 2005 and 2007. This is obviously an end-to-end dash, though entries may suffer from the close proximity the Flying Five has in the British Isles racing calendar to the Haydock Sprint Cup.
The Moyglare Stud Stakes, meanwhile, is a 7f test for juvenile fillies. It is thus key form to consider for the following season when the ladies step up to 1m and tackle the Irish 1000 Guineas, though there are other trials. Over the same course and distance as the Moyglare Stud is the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes also for two-year-olds. Horses who this, and it’s mainly colts, are serious Classic contenders for the following campaign.
That just leaves the Irish St Leger, which is somewhat unique among the Classics in the British Isles. It is the only one that is open to horses older than three. Geldings can also go in this 1m 6f test unlike the others. It is thus the only Classic which a horse can win more than once and indeed there have been some great multiple winners like Vintage Crop, Kayf Tara, Vinnie Roe and Order Of St George.
Who is the best bookie for betting on The Curragh in Ireland?
To truly get the best value when betting on events at an Irish racecourse, you need to be gambling through an Irish bookmaker and there’s one in particular who stand out. Paddy Power will need no introduction to most punters but – if you’re new to placing bets and somehow managed to avoid their very clever TV advertising campaign – we’ll tell you what they are all about. Naturally, you get the best odds guaranteed on all UK and Irish horse racing through this firm meaning your winnings will be paid out at the starting price if that’s bigger than what you took in the build-up.
Big field handicaps get the extra place treatment if you’re betting each-way on the horses and there’s also Paddy’s Rewards Club giving you bonuses if you place a certain cumulative amount of wagers each week. We all like to feel rewarded for being loyal to a bookmaker and Paddy Power certainly fulfils that. You can also request a bet on horse racing or any other sport by using the AskPaddy hashtag and Twitter account. Paddy Power are also offering live betting or bets in-running on all UK and Irish horse racing daily, which you can usually only find on sports betting exchanges.
All the Curragh horse racing betting tips you need
With all the Irish Classics taking place at The Curragh racecourse, alongside several other Group 1s, you’re never short of things to bet on. Getting good betting tips is difficult these days. Modern life is busy and there may not always time for you to check previous Curragh racing results to see how horses have done when in action at this track before. Luckily, OpenOdds have a host of horse betting experts who do all that for you. They know all about the Curragh and horse racing in general to help you make the right choice when taking a punt. They whittle down the field, whatever the size, to three selections.
The first is their best value bet and also the most likely to win. Given how competitive some of the races held at The Curragh are, however, there are bound to be dangers which we’ll highlight as well. There’s also the best each-way option considered, which is especially important if the field is large. Our experts will also assess how risky each bet they put forward is on a simple scale from one to 10. The best odds available at the time of writing and where they can be found are also quoted, but please remember betting markets are subject to change.
Tips for races at Curragh
- Great betting opportunities
- Prioritize the value bet
- Consider best each-way options
- Check out bookies odds
Expert advice on hand before betting on Curragh races
What do the latest Curragh racing results mean for the future? If you want a site that takes a betting first approach to the latest news in horse racing, then you’ve come to the right place. At OpenOdds, we’re committed to placing everything in its proper context – and what that means for the markets. The latest entries and weights have the potential to make or break any ante post bets you’ve placed, so we want you to know we’ve got those covered. We’re a reliable source of news and betting information that supports the tips our experts provide.
Everyone has a learning curve to follow when they start placing bets. At the outset, you can feel a little in the dark at times over all the industry terminology especially in a sport as historic as horse racing. We’re also on a mission to bust the jargon and explain the world of horses and betting on them to you via our glossary section. Our experts have taken time to break things down and tell you all about terms in plain English, so you can better understand them. It’s great to get a leg-up and be clued in to the sayings that have developed in and around horse racing.