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Why is Horse Racing so Popular in Ireland?

DUBLIN - Ireland - There's something magical about horse racing in the Emerald Isle. We list some of the wonderful racing highlights.

Ireland is, without question, one of the most beautiful countries in the entire world. If you’ve never visited before, then stop what you’re doing, book yourself a break here, and get ready to have the time of your life.

Ireland is full of picturesque countryside, rugged coastlines, amazing architecture, and the friendliest, most lively individuals you could ever wish for. If there’s one thing you’re guaranteed in Ireland, it’s a warm welcome.

While Ireland is known for many things, when people aren’t talking about the friendly locals, or how amazing a pint of Guinness tastes, they’re talking about the horses. Ireland has a long-standing affinity to horses that goes back centuries. A day at the races in Ireland is a day that you’ll never forget.

But why is horse racing so popular in Ireland? Let’s find out, shall we? Here’s a look at everything you need to know about horses and horse racing in Ireland.


Horse Racing in Ireland

Ireland has a rich and storied history of horse breeding, and horse racing, that can be traced back generations. In fact, the racing of horses in Ireland is mentioned in some of the earliest texts.

Of course, these days, domestically, horse racing is one of Ireland’s most lucrative sports. In fact, it’s one of the world’s most lucrative sports, and sees people from all across the globe bet on it every single day. As seen with the huge selection of racing betting sites in Ireland, 90% of all bookmakers cover Irish horse racing.

Ireland is a country at the heart of thoroughbred breeding, with close to 30,000 people in Ireland working in the horse racing industry in some capacity. Considering Ireland’s population is just over 5 million, that is a very impressive stat.

Not only does horse racing in Ireland create jobs, it’s also great for the economy. Every year, horse racing and breeding brings in upwards of 1.8 billion Euros. Horse racing is as popular in busy towns and cities as it is in quiet rural areas.

Why Horse Racing is Big in Ireland

To understand why Ireland has such a rich and storied history with horse racing, we need to understand more about the land itself.

Ireland is very much an agricultural country. Farming, tourism, and horse racing all generate the most income for the country, but why is Ireland so great at breeding racehorses compared with other countries? It turns out that there are several reasons.

To begin with, Ireland’s climate is perfect for breeding thoroughbreds. Sure, we know that Ireland’s climate isn’t exactly great for sunseekers, but thanks to that Atlantic rain that blows in so frequently, the lush green pastures are ideal. The rain combined with the limestone rich soil is ideal for raising young horses. It helps to strengthen their muscles and build their stamina. It is, perhaps, the equivalent of an athlete training at altitude or doing hill sprints or sand sprints to improve explosive power.

Of course, the climate and the countryside are only one piece of the puzzle. The people themselves also play an enormous role. The Irish seem to have an affinity for horses. It is in their blood and is in their culture, and has been heavily romanticized over the years in various forms.

Ireland is Europe’s leading producer of thoroughbred horses, with close to 30,000 people employed in the industry. Everybody has their part to play in the making of a racehorse. The breeders themselves, the vets, the farmers, the trainers, and the jockeys all play a key role in the production of world-class racehorses.

Irish Horse Races

Of course, a day at the races in Ireland is a day like no other. It is the perfect excuse to throw on your finest suit or dress, break out your biggest hat or fascinator, and get dressed to the nines in the hopes of winning big and backing a winner.

While the UK is home to a number of prestigious horse races, Ireland sees some of the biggest, most celebrated horse races in the world. Here are just a few examples:

Irish Champion Stakes

The Irish Champion Stakes is one of the most popular flat races in all of Ireland.

Open to thoroughbreds who are aged 3 and above, this race takes place every September at the prestigious Leopardstown racecourse, running a distance of 2,012 metres, with prize money of 1 million Euros up for grabs.

The Irish Derby

Perhaps the most well-known horse race of all, in Ireland, is the Irish Derby.

This race is Ireland’s equivalent of England’s Epsom Derby and is the most important horse racing event in the racing calendar.

Another group 1 flat horse event, this race is open to fillies, thoroughbreds, and colts aged 3 and above.

Slightly longer than the Irish Champion Stakes, this race is held over a distance of 2,414 metres and is held in County Kildare at the Curragh Racecourse at the end of June or the beginning of July every year.

The Irish 2,000 Guineas

The Irish 2,000 Guineas was first launched in 1921 and is a group 1 flat horse race for colts, fillies, and thoroughbreds aged 3 and older.

This too takes place at the Curragh Racecourse and is held over a distance of one mile. Winners of this race will then go on to compete in the St. James Palace Stakes race one month later.

The Irish Oaks

Finally, we have the Irish Oaks.

A group 1 flat horse race, this race is reserved solely for thoroughbred fillies aged 3 and above. It takes place right after the Irish Derby at Curragh and was first held back in 1895.

With prize money of 500,000 Euros, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.

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