Location and History

Dundalk Racecourse, located in County Louth, Ireland, represents a key cornerstone in the nation's rich equestrian heritage.

Established in the late 19th century, this racecourse has witnessed numerous historic moments, evolving through the decades while retaining its essential charm as a venue where racing fans flock to in search of a great night out, and the hope of taking home some winnings.

Unique to Dundalk is its all-weather, floodlit track – the first and only of its kind in Ireland. This Polytrack surface allows for consistent racing conditions, enabling year-round events irrespective of the often-unpredictable Irish weather.

But that’s not the only way in which it’s unique. Dundalk is also the only venue in the whole of Europe that hosts both horseracing and greyhound racing, with the track for the greyhounds being situated within the horseracing track itself.

Prior to 2001, Dundalk was a turf racecourse used for national hunt events before opening as an all-weather racing track in August 2007.

Four years earlier, the greyhound track had been opened after the nearby Dundalk Ramparts Greyhound Stadium closed in 2000.

Back in 1999, the Dundalk Race Company PLC and Dundealgan Greyhound Racing Company Limited merged to form Dundalk Racing Ltd, which as we know, is now responsible for hosting both types of racing.

The venue's regular Friday night race meetings, illuminated under powerful floodlights, offer a distinct atmosphere, merging the thrill of the race with a touch of modern elegance.

All horseracing nights, mostly on a Friday but sometimes on other weekdays as well, are also greyhound racing nights and racegoers who have purchased tickets to watch the horseracing can stay on and watch the greyhounds, in addition to being given free race programs for the second half of the evening, as well.

However, not all greyhound racing nights are horseracing nights! Those limited to the dogs are generally held on a Saturday night, with the first race normally starting at 7.50pm.

Dundalk Racecourse boasts excellent transport links, making it easily accessible for visitors.

Located just off the M1 motorway, it's a straightforward drive for those coming from both Dublin and Belfast.

For those not driving, the racecourse is also well-serviced by public transport, with Dundalk railway station a short distance away, connecting it to major cities. Additionally, regular bus services operate in the area, and the nearby Dublin Airport offers added convenience for international attendees, which also includes a bus link from the airport to the track.

Types of Racing at Dundalk and Notable Races

As we already know, this is an all-weather track and in this case that means the surface is ‘polytrack’, a wax-coated synthetic surface that absorbs water and means racing can take place even during the wettest months, something that's not always possible on turf tracks.

Most of the 43 racing fixtures here are therefore hosted in the winter months, with at least one meeting a week here between October and March.

The new 10-furlong track is accompanied by an extensive stable block to house up to 130 horses.

In the words of former jockey Mick Kinane on the At the Races website:

“Dundalk is a very fair track. The cutaway rail they introduced in December 2013 was an excellent move and it has drastically reduced the number of hard-luck stories. In general, it rides quite firm and some horses, particularly those that like a softer surface, won’t let themselves down on it. A low draw is a big help over seven furlongs and particularly over the extended mile-and-a-quarter as the bend comes up very quickly indeed after that start. The kickback had been getting a bit worse during the 2014/15 winter season, but they refurbished the surface in July 2015 and that should settle it down and go back to the fair surface it had been for years.”

The most high-profile races to be run here are: the (Listed) Patton Stakes in March, the Diamond Stakes and the Mercury Stakes, the latter two being Group 3 races held on Friday nights in October.

Looking at famous horses to have won here and Mastercraftsman, a four-time Group One winner, won the Diamond Stakes at Dundalk just two years (2009) after the Polytrack was introduced.

Going back a few decades now to when it was still turf and used for jumps and the great Arkle was also a winner here at Dundalk. Rated 212 by Timeform, he’s the highest-rated steeplechaser of all time and went on to win three Cheltenham Gold Cups.

Another great to have tasted victory at Dundalk is Star Appeal, who in 1975 won the Arc Du Triumph at a Tote price of 118/1.

Heroes at Dundalk

Let’s look at the trainers and jockeys who have taken a particular liking to the Dundalk 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

  • Michael Halford (311 wins) and Ger Lyons (231) are the only trainers to have had over 200 winners here on the flat.
  • But it’s the great Aiden O’Brien who has the best strike rate here with 22% of his 853 runners going on to win.

Top Jockeys

  • Three jockeys have won here over 200 times on the flat. Colin Keane (254), Pat Smullen (218) and Shane Foley (215).
  • But it’s Jonny Murtagh with 115 wins from 573 entries who has the best strike rate here over the years (20%).

Dundalk Trivia

  • Horses sired by the great Galileo have won here at Dundalk on the flat on 95 occasions, more than any other horse. That number drops down to 77 for another great: Holy Roman Emperor, who’s ranked fourth on this metric.

  • The aforementioned Star Appeal became the first Germain-trained winner of the Arc after settling in Germany after a few changes of stable. In the year of his win at the Arc, 1975, he was voted European Horse of the Year.

  • Horseracing has been taking place here since 1889 and greyhound racing since 1930.

  • Dundalk isn’t just the only venue in Europe that hosts both horse racing and greyhound racing, it’s the only venue in the whole world to do so.