Location and History

Clonmel Racecourse, also known as Powerstown Park, is a dual-purpose racecourse and a hub of Irish horse racing nestled in the scenic surroundings of Clonmel, County Tipperary. It’s one of three racetracks in the County but the only one to host events- both flat and over jumps- over the course of the whole year, across a total of 12 meetings.

Steeped in history, this racetrack has been the heart of Irish racing since the first meeting in 1856. It is renowned for its challenging National Hunt racing, featuring a mix of hurdles and steeplechase that test the agility and strength of competing horses and jockeys. Every year it hosts two Graded races (one a hurdles race, another a chase) and a Listed race, also a chase.

Away from horseracing, the venue is particularly famous for its annual four-day Clonmel Festival, highlighted by the Clonmel Oil Chase in November, which draws spectators from all over Ireland and beyond. A controversial sport which involves greyhounds or other types of hunting dogs chasing hares through sight rather than scent, it’s banned in most European countries. Though the 2023 edition was staged in February and will be held again in 2024, also in early February, it’s not as yet known whether it will continue to be held here beyond that.

The ambiance at Clonmel Racecourse is one of intimacy and conviviality, where racing enthusiasts can enjoy the thrill of the races in a friendly, community atmosphere.

Getting there is pretty straightforward.

Clonmel Racecourse is accessible by road, located just 2 kilometres from Clonmel town off the N24, the main Limerick to Waterford route.

For those using public transport, Clonmel's bus and train stations are conveniently situated in the town centre, with taxis readily available for the short trip to the racecourse. Additionally, Clonmel is well-signposted, guiding visitors smoothly to the excitement of Powerstown Park.

Types of Racing at Clonmel and Notable Races

As is the case with most Irish tracks, it hosts a mixture of jumps and flat racing.

When it comes to flat racing, it’s a right-handed oval of about ten furlongs with a downhill run to the straight and then a rise to the line.

The jumps course, also right-handed, is a mile and a quarter in length with the first part of the circuit being uphill before a long downhill run to the home straight of a little over two furlongs in a course that has seven fences to a circuit. The jumps course is a tough track, as explained by former jockey Charlie Swan on the At The Races website:

“I always found Clonmel to be a tricky track to ride. It is difficult to come from off the pace unless they go a particularly strong pace. You simply have to get a breather into your horse going up that hill on the far side. If you see a rider asking for effort up that hill, you’ll rarely see them get home in the race. In general, it is quite a good track for front runners, and I found that it did produce course specialists. In terms of the fences, the second-last is particularly tricky. You’re running downhill to it and some horses that are feeling the pinch are going to be going faster than they are comfortable at and it can catch plenty of them out.”

The three most high-profile races held here are the Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle in February and the Clonmel Oil Chase and T.A Morris Memorial Mares Chase, both in November.

Of the three, it’s the Clonmel Oil Chase that attracts the most interest from both racegoers and gamblers and the one that has seen the most famous horses win there.

Dorans Pride, a winner of the Cheltenham Festival Stayers’ Hurdle in 1995 won it four years in a row between 1997 and 2000.

The resilient and popular Beef or Salmon won it in 2002, Edredon Bleu in 2003 and War of Attrition in 2005. Tranquil Sea also did the double here, winning in 2010 and 2011 (back-to-back no less) while 2011 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Sizing Europe won it in 2012.

Charlie Swan, whose description of the jumps track is above, was the jockey on board the winner in 1992 and 1993 although it’s Paul Townend who has won the Clonmel Oil Chase on the most occasions, with four triumphs (2014, 2018, 2019 and 2022).

Heroes at Clonmel

This is something of a specialists’ track. Let’s look at the trainers and jockeys who have taken a particular liking to the Clonmel course over the years by winning on numerous occasions, or who were no strangers to the winner’s enclosure from the few starts they did have.

Top Trainers

  • Kevin Prendergast is the lading trainer on the flat with seven wins from 29 horses sent out to race.
  • Emmet Mullins and Patrick O’Brady have an 100% strike rate here on the flat. However, in both cases, they won in their only outing here.
  • There are far more prolific trainers when it comes to jumps racing. Willie Mullins has had 151 winners here (33% strike rate) while Gordon Elliott has had 73 (18%).

Top Jockeys

  • On the flat, Pat Smullen won here 22 times from 129 starts (17% strike rate).
  • Ruby Walsh, as is the case at many Irish tracks, leads the way for most wins over jumps with 91 from 358 races.
  • Davy Russell (70 winners) and Barry Geraghty/Patrick Mullins (43 each) are the next most prolific winners here.

Clonmel Trivia

  • The National Hare Coursing Festival attracts over 30,000 attendees over the course of the festivities although as we know, it may be discontinued after 2024.

  • This is not a track for backing favourites at over the jumps. Across the last five seasons, just 25% of favourites have gone on to win over hurdles and 26% in Chases in handicap events, meaning you would have lost money if you’d backed all favourites over that period, in both types of racing. It’s a similar story in non-handicap races where backing every favourite would also have cost you money.

  • Though there isn’t too much data to go on given flat racing is somewhat rare here, there does still seem to be a bias towards those with a low draw, as a result of being able to save ground around the first two fairly tight turns.