Downpatrick Racecourse Guide

Downpatrick Racecourse is the second of the two courses situated in County Down in Northern Ireland and has two big claims to fame as a racecourse. Firstly, it is the oldest course on the island of Ireland with its origins dating back to the first meeting held here in 1685. Secondly, Byerley Turk, one of the three foundation stallions for the thoroughbred breed, is reported to have run at the course in 1690.

The current course is set just a couple miles down the road from this original site and is located just one mile from the historic centre of the town of Downpatrick, which contains various abbeys, castles, and cathedrals, dating from the Celtic period that attracts thousands of tourists each year - many of whom go on to attend one of the summer meetings.

In terms of getting to the track, Bus Eireann have a bus that runs from Dublin to Downpatrick, a train service also runs from Dublin to Belfast with the nearest stop to the track being Lisburn. The nearest airport to the track is Belfast International, which services the UK and mainland Europe.


Swap Start/End

Ticket Prices

General Admission prices for the course are as follows: Adults £10, OAP/Students £5, and Children under the age of 16 are free.

The Course

Downpatrick is an extremely unique right handed track, which is about 11 furlongs in length, and very narrow right the way round. There is a significant amount of turns and huge undulations throughout the circuit that make Downpatrick very much a horses for courses track.

There are six fences to a circuit of the course with the final two coming in quick succession down the side of the course before the home straight of just over a furlong. Riding a circuit of the course is like going through a series of hills and valleys with the descent just after the winning post probably the steepest you will see at any track in the world.

It is imperative that a horse has buckets of stamina to see out the trip here and the handier it likes to be ridden the better, although horses can come from off the pace in certain races during the stiff last furlong and a half. The narrowness of the track does make it difficult to come from too far back, however. It should also be noted that no flat racing takes place at the track due to the size of the hills not being conducive to speedy types.

Major Meetings at Downpatrick

Downpatrick has 9 meetings each year between March to October with the highlight being the Ulster National, which is recognised as a trial race for the Irish Grand National. Ladies day in August is the other major day on the Downpatrick calendar.

Dining and Hospitality

Downpatrick offers a number of suites and private rooms which are available each race day, including:

  • Function Suite: This space can have up to 400 people for business or whatever event you’re hoping to throw. More details about this suite and pricing (which varies) is available on the course website.
  • Corporate Boxes: These are available for hire from £40 per person with a minimum of 12 persons. These boxes accommodate 12 to 20 people with first class views of the races. Corporate Boxes also come with access to a bar, food, and waiter facilities. Food is not included in price, but there are plenty of menu options available on request, which can be tailored.
  • Corporate Hospitality Packages: These start from £40 per person and include entry to the races, lunch, access to betting stands, a free racing card, a racing expert to give you help, a pay bar all to yourself, and even some live music for after the races.

For all patrons the course has a number of bars and restaurants which provide both take-away and sit down menus, alongside refreshments and sweets, and, of course, tea and coffee.