Down Royal Racecourse

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Welcome to our official guide to Down Royal Racecourse.

We explore this great Irish racecourse in detail, looking at its history, a guide to the track, local hotel picks, racing fixtures, travel information, betting guides and even the weather.

If you are looking for the latest betting tips for Down Royal, check out our full guide to Down Royal Racecourse tips.

Find out more about Down Royal Racecourse:

Down Royal racecourse

Overview of Down Royal Races

Down Royal Racecourse has been home to racing since the 18th century and is situated just outside of Lisburn in Northern Ireland.

Although the course is located well within the borders of Northern Ireland, and therefore the UK, the racing at Down Royal sits within the authority of Horse Racing Ireland.

Down Royal is one of just two horse racing courses in Northern Ireland.

Down Races are considered an approachable and friendly venue for first-timers to the sport as well as seasoned veterans alike.

Situated in Lisburn, about half an hours’ drive from Belfast and less than two hours from Dublin (and just off the A1, the main road between the two), Down Royal is easily accessible to all on the Emerald Isle.

Thoroughly modern but with a rich history of racing, Down Royal mixes business with sport and pleasure to perfection.

Hosting both National Hunt and Flat racing, the highlight of the Down Royal’s calendar is the two-day Festival of Racing every October, which boasts a number of graded races and starts the jumping season with a bang.

The track at Down Royal is a right-handed square track measuring just under two miles in length. There are 10 fences to a circuit along a wide galloping track with better ground lying to the outside; although the winners are not always predictable. A chute for races run a 5 furlongs is in place at an almost constant turn right.

Horses need to be well balanced to enjoy running at Down Royal and experienced in running on a round course.

Down Royal Racecourse

Down Royal Racecourse History

There has been racing at Down Royal since the early 18th century when the land was donated the First Marquess of Downshire, Arthur Hill.

Before that, King James II had issued a Royal Charter to form the Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders, but racing had never launched.

In 1750, King George II donated £100 for the King’s Plate to be run at Down Royal Racecourse – and a race resembling this (now named Her Majesty’s Plate) is run at the same time of year (July) over the same distance (1 mile 5 furlongs).

Down Royal has enjoyed heavy investment over the years and boasts a variety of great entertaining, hospitality and business facilities as a result.

Down Royal Racecourse Map

There are two courses at Down Royal.

Down Royal National Hunt Track

Below is a map of the jumps course at Down Royal:

Down Royal Racecourse Map

Down Royal Flat Course

Below is a map of Down Royal flat course:

Down Royal Flat Track

Down Royal Main Races and Events

Down Royal Racecourse holds events all year round and its schedule includes some of the biggest and most prominent races in the Irish calendar.

The first Grade 1 chase of the year starts off the jumping season in November with a two-day festival meet headlined by the Champion Chase.

The Ulster Derby and Oaks, run every June at Down Royal, is Northern Ireland’s most valuable flat race. Open to three-year-old horses, this race is run over 1 mile 4 furlongs and 150 yards and has been run at the course since 1936. The Ulster Derby handicap and Her Majesty’s Plate.

Their most valuable race over jumps is the Ladbrokes Champion Chase.

Down Royal Racecourse Address

The address of Down Royal Racecourse is:

Down Royal Racecourse
Gravelhill Road
BT27 5RW
Northern Ireland.

How To Get To Down Royal Racecourse

The ways to get to Down Royal races are:

  • By road – Down Royal Racecourse is situated just 5km southwest of Lisburn in Northern Ireland. A turnoff from the A1, the main road connecting Dublin and Belfast, the racecourse is easily accessible by road; with the journey taking about 1 hour 40 min from Dublin and less than half an hour from Belfast. Free car parking is available for all visitors attending by car and all car parks are located within a 5min walk from the race track.
  • By train – the closest train station to Down Royal is Belfast Central Station, to which regular rail services run from all over the country. On race days, shuttle buses run from Belfast Central straight to (and later, from) the course to connect with all major services.
  • By bus – a return bus service from Belfast city centre is operated every race day by the Belfast Bus Company, departing from College Square North. These run from 90 mins before the first race and then from 1 hour afterwards.
  • By air – for those travelling by air, Belfast International Airport is less than a half hours’ drive from Down Royal.

Hotels near Down Royal Racecourse

There is no hotel directly on the Down Royal site, but there are plenty around for those visiting nearby Lisburn.

The closest accommodation option is Dunhill B&B, which has rooms starting from £62, closely followed by the Lisburn Premier Inn which is situated just to the south of the city. Broadly speaking, the further out from the city centre you go, the cheaper the hotel rooms get, but there are some more premium options around should you wish to make a real occasion of your visit to the races.

Betting Shops Local to Down Royal Racecourse

There are a couple of betting kiosks on-site at Down Royal Racecourse, but it tends to be understated.

The best odds are always to be found with independent bookies trackside!

Private and hospitality suites at the course benefit from roaming bookmakers who will visit tables and individuals as and when required.

If you’re looking to bet with chain bookmakers, you’ll find three branches of Ladbrokes horse racing in nearby Lisburn.

All major online betting sites will provide odds for races at Down Royal and you may find the odds a little more generous than you’re used to as the location of the course simply means less people place bets than they do at major courses elsewhere in the UK.

Best Down Royal Races Betting Sites

At British Racecourses, we often recommend betting online and via the best betting apps. This is because you can often get the best odds, great offers when signing up and you can place bets quickly and safely without having to queue.

If you are looking to bet online we recommend the following great deals with some amazing offers for new customers. Many of the listed on this page, including bet 365 horse racing, Betbull, Paddy Power, BetVictor and Mr Green horse racing – all made our list of the best betting sites UK list.

Other Events Held at Down Royal

Down Royal is home not just to the big races, but also to several more informal race evenings popular with parties, tourists, sponsors and families.

Summer and Autumn race evenings are punctuated with street food stalls and entertainment options, and the Boxing Day race meet proves popular with racing fans from all over Ireland.

Down Royal Races 2024

Here is the horse racing calendar for Down Royal Races in 2024:

23/01/2024TuesdayDown Royal
17/03/2024SundayDown Royal
14/04/2024SundayDown Royal
06/05/2024MondayDown Royal
31/05/2024FridayDown Royal
21/06/2024FridayDown Royal
22/06/2024SaturdayDown Royal
19/07/2024FridayDown Royal
30/08/2024FridayDown Royal
06/09/2024FridayDown Royal
30/09/2024MondayDown Royal
01/11/2024FridayDown Royal
02/11/2024SaturdayDown Royal
26/12/2024ThursdayDown Royal

Check out our guide for the full list of Ireland’s horse race meetings in 2024.

Down Royal Racecard

The racecards for Down Royal races will be released the day before the races are set to happen (Down Royal races today). You can view full racecards in advance, check out  – horse racing tomorrow and horse racing today. In these, you will get an advance look at all the runners, trainers, form and riders.

You can also of course purchase a racecard from the track which carries much of the same useful information. Many like to keep these as souvenirs, especially from major horse races.

Down Royal Racecourse Facts

  • Down Royal Racecourse is located in Maze, County Down, Northern Ireland.
  • It is the only racecourse in Northern Ireland and hosts both National Hunt and Flat racing.
  • The first recorded race meeting at Down Royal was in 1685.
  • The track is a left-handed oval of 1 mile and 6 furlongs with a run-in of 3 furlongs – a downhill run.
  • The track is renowned for its testing fences and is one of the toughest tracks in the UK.
  • Down Royal hosts the Grade 1 Champion Chase, the most prestigious race in Northern Ireland.
  • The track is also home to the Grade 2 Northern Ireland Champion Hurdle and the Grade 2 Northern Ireland Champion Chase.
  • The track is owned and operated by Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders.
  • The racecourse is also home to a golf course, driving range and a clubhouse.

Popular Questions

What is the cheapest way to get from Belfast to Down Royal Racecourse?

The cheapest and quickest way to get to Down Royal Racecourse from Belfast is to drive.

How is Down Royal Racecourse rated?

Down Royal Racecourse is rated highly on Google and also by our followers at British Racecourses, it is definitely worth a visit.

What days are Down Royal Racecourse open?

To see what days Down Royal Racecourse is open check our full fixture list.

Summary of Down Royal Racecourse

Down Royal Racecourses hosts quality racing throughout the year both over jumps and on the flat.

It is a venue where modern facilities and superb horses combine and it is always a great day out for racing fans and families alike.

If you are looking for a great days racing you won’t be disappointed – definitely worth a visit!