Every few weeks Dundalk racecourse welcomes not only horse racing fans but also those who love greyhound racing. The €35 million venue, opened in 2003, is one of the most unique in Europe in that it has a track within a track. The horses run around the outside, whilst on the smaller, inner ring the dogs chase the hare. Not at the same time as that would be absolute chaos obviously, but it does make for an excellent Friday night. Be prepared for being one of the few if you do head here on a chilly night in October or November, when most Friday night revellers head elsewhere.
Everyone you meet though is welcoming and genuine. You can get close to the action as there is only one enclosure, with a few steps on the grandstand behind. There’s a dozen or so bookmakers touting for your business as well as Tote windows inside and outside.
Last visit – October 2016
Tired of Friday night’s fighting for elbow room at the bars in Temple Bar? Then why not hop on a train, head an hour north and take in some evening racing with a view and a half. Dundalk racecourse may not be the most aethetically pleasing in the world, a problem that any track built in the past twenty years faces, but it offers a hospitable welcome and some superb views away in the distance. On a cold, Autumnal night you may feel as if they’ve opened the track up for you and you alone in the early races, but come 7.30pm the Friday night revellers will arrive en-masse and get the party started.
My original plan was to watch a few races before heading across town to watch Dundalk Football Club at Oriel Park. The Irish champions have become the biggest sporting news in the town these days and so the TV cameras dictated that their game move back 24 hours. Surely that would mean the few thousand fans would instead head to the races? Alas no.
A lack of punters early in the evening didn’t do much for grabbing any good odds from the on course bookmakers, with eight of then lined up in two rows of four facing each other. With no one betting, the odds didn’t move. I used my normal tactic of seeing who made eye contact first and giving them my business. My tip in the first race was a 10/1 Miss Cogent which gave me a nice start to the evening, coming home in second place.
The evening’s racing saw three favourites win, with 25/1 outsider Black Agnes, alas not on my radar, winning the 8pm. In terms of my return I was happy with three winners out of the four races I stayed for (I was heading back down to Dublin to watch some football), paying for my evening and a some more.
For a decent night out then Dundalk has that advantage of Horse and Dog racing on selected nights as well as some decent deals in conjunction with hotels such as the Crowne Plaza and the Ramada. It’s location isn’t particularly handy for going on elsewhere as you really have to rely on someone driving or a cab. It may well not be one that those used to the charm and history of some of the British tracks but you are certainly guaranteed a warm welcome.
What’s the track like?: The new track does feel a bit soul-less although the Mourne Mountains in the distance and the Irish Sea create a beautiful frame. It is an all-weather track, with floodlights for evening racing. There’s just one stand, with a restaurant at the top, with the parade ring just behind it.
Admission: Adults – €15, Concessions – €10, Under14s – Free. Racecard – €2.50
Food and Drink: Restaurant with excellent views of all the action – €49 for 4 course meail including admission. Silks and Bits ‘n’ Bites are on the ground floor and open to everyone.
Address: Racecourse Road, Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland
Directions: Dundalk is just a few miles south of the border, almost half-way between Belfast and Dublin. The new fast trains run regularly between the two cities, with a stop in Dundalk. From there a taxi will whisk you to the track in 10 minutes. If you are driving then exit the M1/N1 at the junction for Dundalk (North) and head south on the N52. The track is 1/2 mile down this road on the left-hand side. There’s plenty of free parking at the track.
Hotels near-by: The Crowne Plaza (N52, Haggardstown) is the official partner of the racecourse and offers a fantastic deal of €79 per person for bed and breakfast, transport to the racecours and admission. You can book the offer on +353 (0) 42 9394900.