The countdown is on! It really is a case of horses for courses when the new season begins at Ireland’s premier flat racecourse – the Curragh. You may know your form but here’s a few facts that you may not know about the internationally known Kildare equine venue.
1. It is home to Ireland’s five classic races: The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, The Darley Irish Oaks, The Etihad Airwasys Irish 1000 Guineas, the Tatteralls Irish 2000 Guineas and the St Leger.
2. The Curragh is currently being redeveloped in a huge €65m project which is hoped will be finished by Christmas 2018. The stable yard has been fully finished in recent weeks with 135 stables ready for racing.
3. The centerpiece of the project will be a major new grandstand, which will include five-star corporate facilities, restaurants, bars and superb viewing facilities for the public.
4. A new museum will be built to celebrate the history of Irish racing and its contribution to the sport worldwide.
5. The Curragh is a right-handed horse-shoe shaped two-mile circuit course.
6. The first recorded race on the plain took place in 1727.
7. The first derby was in 1866 and in 1868, the Curragh was officially declared a horse racing and training facility by the Act of Parliament.
8. The name Curragh comes from the Irish word Cuirreach, meaning place of the running horse.
9. Horses trained on the Curragh have won many of the world’s most prestigious races, including the Irish Derby, Epsom Derby, Melbourne Cup, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Aintree Grand National, Irish Grand National, Breeders Cup, Belmont Stakes and Cheltenham Gold Cup.
10. Noted winners trained on the Curragh’s extensive grounds include Hardy Eustace, Sea the Stars, Sinndar, Papillion and Grey Swallow.