Everything you need to know about Fairyhouse racecourse
Last updated & tested: 2019-04-22
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The first official Fairyhouse racing with horses took place in 1848. Located outside the Dublin commuter town of Ratoath, County Meath in the province of Leinster, it is one of several courses scattered around the countryside that flanks Ireland’s capital on three sides. Since 1870, Fairyhouse has hosted the Irish Grand National over the Easter weekend.
This is the Emerald Isle’s most prestigious handicap steeplechase. Fairyhouse horse racing has plenty more to offer besides that one event, however, as a whole festival has sprung up around the Irish National. Five Grade 1 races in total are held on this right-handed track which has an uphill finish. A complete circuit of the course at Fairyhouse in Ireland is just over one-and-three-quarter miles. Although predominantly used for National Hunt horse racing, some Flat action does take place here over the summers though it is not as high-profile. The Fairyhouse results that matter most are those at the Winter Festival at the start of December, the Bobbyjo Chase which has implications for the Grand Nationals on either side of the Irish Sea and the three-day Easter meeting. We’ll discuss these events and the main races on each card in plenty of detail below.
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More on the popular betting events at Fairyhouse races
We proceed through a calendar year in our look at what’s on at Fairyhouse racing wise. As it’s a dual-purpose venue for horses over both jumps and on the Flat, although predominantly for the former, you’ll find there’s something for everyone…
Solerina throws up useful sorts
The last Saturday in January tends to be a very busy day in the National Hunt racing calendar. It can be Cheltenham Festival Trials Day and a contain big card of top-class action at Doncaster in the UK, while in Ireland the feature contest lets the ladies take centre stage in the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle.
Any race that has produced four subsequent Cheltenham Festival winners cannot be ignored by punters and it’s clear some of the best up-and-coming mares have landed this 2m 2f Grade 3 novice hurdle. Glens Melody (2013), for example, went on to win the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle in 2015.
Two of the first three Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle heroines came out of this Fairyhouse race too in Limini (2016) and Laurina (2018) for Willie Mullins, while Shattered Love (2017) went on to win the following year’s JLT Novices’ Chase when switched to fences by Gigginstown House Stud and Gordon Elliott.
Bobbyjo and Winning Fair are February fun
Moving on to the last Saturday in February and Fairyhouse racecourse has its own Grand National trial in the 3m 1f Grade 3 Bobbyjo Chase. Named after the 1999 Aintree hero, it has produced a subsequent winner and second in one of British horse racing’s most renowned contests. Hedgehunter (2005) went straight to Merseyside off the back his success in the Bobbyjo, while Pleasant Company (2017) was just beaten a head in the 2018 Aintree Grand National.
The Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle also takes place on this card. Another Grade 3, but for four-year-old horses only and over 2m, this is a prep run for juveniles in the National Hunt sense before going to the Cheltenham Festival or the one at Punchestown that brings the curtain down on the Irish jumps season. There are better trials out there, however.
Irish Grand National at heart of Fairyhouse Easter Festival
Easter can of course fall in March or April, so there is no fixed time for the three days of compelling National Hunt action over this Bank Holiday weekend. The meeting containing the Irish National starts on Easter Sunday and ends on the Tuesday. Let’s take a look day-by-day at the graded jumps racing on offer at Fairyhouse in Ireland here.
Sunday has two Grade 1 events both over 2m 4f; the Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final and the Ryanair Gold Cup for novice chasers. The former has been won by some of Mullins’ best mares like Annie Power (2013) and Laurina (2018). As for the Ryanair Gold Cup, its honour roll contains the likes of Arkle (1963) and Captain Christy (1972), who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup as a novice. Its proximity to other end-of-season jumps racing Festivals means less illustrious winners have followed.
A Grade 2 novice hurdle also over the 2m 4f trip and an extended 2m handicap chase for novices that holds Grade B status are also part of the Easter Sunday card at Fairyhouse races. As for the supporting races on Monday, they include the Grade 2 Irish Strawberry Hurdle – yet another 2m 4f contest – and the Devenish Chase over the same trip but the horses tackle fences. There’s also a 2m Grade 2 novice hurdle.
Now, the Irish National itself is a 3m 5f handicap steeplechase won by some of the all-time National Hunt greats. Timeform’s top two highest rated horses over fences ever, Arkle (1964) and Flyingbolt (1966), are on the honour roll alongside more modern heroes Desert Orchid (1990), Bobbyjo (1998) and Numbersixvalverde (2005) – the latter pair would also triumph in the English equivalent at Aintree.
Day three of this Easter Festival is a mixture of handicaps, graded action and a Listed bumper or National Hunt Flat race for mares. A Grade 2 juvenile hurdle over 2m is joined by a 3m Grade B handicap chase and 2m Grade A handicap hurdle. There’s also a Grade 3 mares chase over 2m 4f. This rounds off the meeting off nicely.
Brownstown and Blenheim Stakes the main Flat fixtures
Jumps take a backseat over the summer and racing on the level comes to the fore. Although best known for its National Hunt offerings, Fairyhouse horse racing does include some Flat fixtures. The Brownstown Stakes is a 7f Group 3 contest in July for fillies and mares aged three and up that is the most high-profile contest in this sphere at the course.
Formerly run at Leopardstown over a mile, it’s been at Fairyhouse since 2009 and the younger horses get weight-for-age from their elders. As the Brownstown come between Royal Ascot and the Irish Oaks weekend in the racing calendar, it doesn’t really attract the most elite fillies and mares but that’s understandable.
As for the Blenheim Stakes, that’s a Listed juvenile race over 6f which until 2014 was held at The Curragh. With so much Flat action happening at that venue, it was moved to be among the Fairyhouse racing instead. As it’s towards the end of the season – after Irish Champions Weekend – the best two-year-olds may have already run beforehand or be saved for one of the many event during Newmarket’s Future Champions Festival or even a crack at the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October.
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Stacked Sunday card at Winter Festival
Whoever organises Fairyhouse races is smart to what’s going on elsewhere when it comes to their two-day December weekend card at the start of the month. The first day often clashes with the old Hennessy Gold Cup (now called the Ladbrokes Trophy) at Newbury. As that stayers’ handicap chase is one of the most competitive races of the jumps season and has a high calibre supporting events, the main action at Fairyhouse is held off until the Sunday.
On the Saturday, you’ll find beginners’ chases and maiden hurdles, while it’s almost wall-to-wall graded action 24 hours later. Three of the five Grade 1 races that Fairyhouse is home to happen on the second day of their Winter Festival. The Royal Bond Novice Hurdle over 2m is a key Irish trial for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Some of the National Hunt horses of modern times have won this; Istabraq (1996), Moscow Flyer (1999), Hardy Eustace (2002) and Hurricane Fly (2008) chief among them.
As for the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, this is a 2m 4f test that attracts a range of types. Many step down in distance to contest the Champion Hurdle, while others will go up in trip and go for the Stayers’ at the Cheltenham Festival. Istabraq and Hurricane Fly are also on the honour roll here, alongside three-time winner Limestone Lad and the brilliant Brave Inca.
The third of the Grade 1s is the 2m 4f Drinmore Novices Chase which has thrown up some real staying stars like subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack (2013). Fellow Gigginstown owned gelding Valseur Lido (2014) would go on to win the old Lexus Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival. The 2017 runner-up Rathvinden landed the 4m National Hunt Chase at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, while another former second Anibale Fly placed in the Grand National at Aintree. It’s a race where horses with big futures over fences run.
Supporting these elite events are some top-class handicaps in a 2m Grade A handicap hurdle and the Grade B Porterstown Handicap Chase over the Irish National trip of 3m 5f. Subsequent RSA Chase victor Presenting Percy is a notable winner of this stayers’ event over fences. There’s also a 2m Grade 3 juvenile hurdle open to three-year-olds only and a Bumper completing this superb card at Fairyhouse.
Which bookie should you use to bet on Fairyhouse horse racing?
So many bookmakers, so little time. Wouldn’t you just love a recommendation from betting experts on which one to use when you fancy a punt at Fairyhouse? Well, it just so happens we can help. The OpenOdds horse racing team recommend Boylesports to you, because they’re the sponsors of this track’s premier event, the Irish Grand National. That Easter Festival is awesome and so is the Sunday of their Winter meeting in December, so it make sense to side with an Emerald Isle bookie when betting and here’s why.
When you’re wagering on a big handicap, you want extra places for your each-way bets and Boylesports certainly give you that on the Irish National paying out pretty far down the field. They naturally furnish all bets they take on the day of the races in questions with the best odds guaranteed, but not just on horse running in Ireland. The UK too – just as a British bookie would – is covered by this promise to pay out your winnings at the starting price if it’s bigger than the one you took in the build-up. Price boosts and promotions aplenty aimed around the sporting institution that is racing in Ireland can also be yours. You can even expect a comprehensive Fairyhouse results service here. Boylesports are a brilliant companion to punting at this racecourse.
You’ll find plenty of Fairyhouse racing tips right here
With so much jumps action that is competitive to bet on, a flutter of two at Fairyhouse can bring plenty of fun. Question is, which horses should you take a punt with? We’ve got our OpenOdds tipsters on hand to give you their picks, and they’re prepared to put their money where their mouths are. The Irish National is a race where big wins could be on offer as it’s so open. Due to Fairyhouse being home to contests as compelling as that, we get our experts to whittle the field down to three horses. First up, they put forward their best value bet to win such races and you money. We don’t always side with favourites here, and nor should you.
There will like as not be a danger to our main selection, so that is where their second pick comes in. Identifying which other horses are serious challengers can help you make a more informed betting choice. Last, and by no means least, there’s the each-way market to consider. On the Irish National and Porterstown Handicap Chase in particular, for example at Fairyhouse, there could be a dark horse or two thrown in there that could outrun their odds and make it into the places. Making money on on such a type that hits the frame can be just as profitable as backing a fancied graded winner, so never discount that way into a betting market. We’ll quote the best prices available at the time these betting tips were written and where to find them, as well as rating the risk of the wagers involved on a scale from one to 10. Never forget, markets can change all the time.
Tips for races at Fairyhouse
- Big wins on offer
- Always make sure you’re placing the value bet
- Research the races
- Check out competitors odds
Some expert advice alongside Fairyhouse results, entries and weights
Only so many horses will make the cut and be able to run in the Irish National at Fairyhouse; so, if you’ve taken an ante post fancy we understand that it’s important that you know whether your chosen horse gets in. That’s where OpenOdds racing news and the betting first approach we’ve adopted to it comes in. Entries and weights can make or break your long-term betting strategy, so keeping you informed of the latest developments is all part of the service. We’ll place the latest developments and announcements from the world of horse racing into their proper context; what have they done to the markets? You can rely on us to do that.
We’re also reaching out to gambling newbies with an invitation to visit our glossary section and get yourselves up to speed with all the lingo you might hear in and around betting on horse racing. Everyone has to learn about the jargon that has built up around this sport over the years, but OpenOdds are committed to breaking down barriers. Horse racing should be accessible to everyone and that means our experts have happily taken time out to explain certain industry terms so you can better understand them. It’s our way of giving something back to the system that has produced lifelong memories and scenes of sporting drama. Get in the know about horse racing and betting terminology now by giving our glossary a once-over.