Downpatrick Racecourse Guide

Welcome to our official guide to Downpatrick Racecourse. We explore this Northern Irish jumps racecourse in detail, looking at its history, a guide to the track, hotel picks, fixtures, travel information, betting guides and even the weather!

Downpatrick Racecourse Guide

Overview of Downpatrick Races

Northern Ireland may not be blessed with an abundance of racecourses but quality certainly triumphs over quantity. Take Downpatrick as an example. A historical venue operated under the auspices of Horse Racing Ireland, Downpatrick is a premier location for National Hunt racing in Northern Ireland.

Located in the scenic rolling countryside of County Down, Downpatrick Racecourse is found under a mile from the town centre of the same name. Steeped in history, Downpatrick is a popular location for tourists during the summer, many of whom attend the June Festival at the racecourse.

The track itself is narrow and right handed and is eleven furlongs around. All events that unfold here are National Hunt races, featuring six fences per circuit. While the fences are generally on the small side and easy to clear, the track itself is hilly with many peaks and drops – like a horse racing rollercoaster. This final straight is entirely uphill, meaning that stamina is a must for a competing horse. The narrowness of the track makes overtaking challenging though, so look out for a horse with great acceleration. Taking an early lead and front running can also be invaluable.

Downpatrick is a relaxed racecourse with no formal dress code, though smart casual is the least expected in an unofficial capacity. Several racedays include prizes for appropriate attire, so it’s always worth dressing to impress. Keep the County Down weather in mind, too.

History of Downpatrick Racecourse

Downpatrick is the oldest racecourse in Ireland, with an illustrious history to match such as a status. The first equestrian events in the area took place in 1685, and the venue that stands today was built over 150 years ago.

Previously, Downpatrick was home to both Flat and National Hunt racing. Flat options were gradually phased out over the decades though, and the final race of this ilk was run in 2009.

Downpatrick does have one other significant claim to fame. Byerley Turk, a foundation stallion for thoroughbred horses, competed in the area in the late 17th Century.

Downpatrick Racecourse Map

Downpatrick Racecourse Map
Map courtesy of At The Races.

The course is narrow and right-handed with a relatively short 11 furlongs per lap. It is a tricky and undulating course with many rises and falls, the nature of the course tends to suit more nippy horses rather than traditional long striding and galloping types.

Downpatrick Racecourse Address

The official correspondence address is:

Downpatrick Racecourse
24 Ballydugan Road
Downpatrick
Co. Down
Northern Ireland
BT30 6TE

How to Get To Downpatrick Racecourse

  • By road – if you prefer to drive, take the M1 Southbound from Belfast, exiting at Junction 6 onto the Ballynahinch. From here, take the A24 and then the A25 – this is the road that hosts Downpatrick Racecourse. If driving from Lisburn, take the Laganbank Road toward Saintfield, then turn off at the Ballynahinch. Follow the same instructions as above from here.
  • By Train – alternatively, travel into Lisburn. This is a comparable distance to Belfast, and also offers a route into Downpatrick via public transport. It’s also the closest train station. Downpatrick Railway Station is a heritage monument, so not suitable for travel to visitors attending the races. You could always take a taxi from Belfast or Lisburn, but this is not going to be a cheap option.
  • By air – Belfast is the closest city to Downpatrick, found some 23 miles away. This makes Belfast the best airport to fly into if this is your choice of travel. It will take around an hour to travel to Downpatrick by bus from Belfast, with the racecourse a brief stroll away from the bus station.

Hotels Near Downpatrick Racecourse

As Downpatrick Racecourse is quite a distance from major transport links, you may want to stay local when attending a race meet. Unfortunately, options remain comparatively limited without travel. There are a handful of accommodations available to you, though. Denvir’s, for example, is a charming inn located in the town centre, just a mile from the racecourse.

There are also numerous small, family-run B&Bs in the area if you search around. As small enterprises, these locations do not have personal websites. You’ll be taking a chance on making a booking, “sight unseen.” If this makes you uncomfortable, base yourself in Belfast and continue your onward journey in the morning. Check out Booking.com for a range of hotels in Northern Ireland: 

Booking.com

Best Downpatrick Races Betting Sites

At British Racecourses we often recommend betting online and via 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:

  • bet365 Racing

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    Betfred Horse Racing
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    New UK & NI customers only. 18+. Sign up using promo code ‘SPORTS60’. Deposit & place first sports bet at a minimum of £10 in one bet transaction at evens (2.0) +. £30 paid in free bets within 48 hours of bet settlement, expires 7-days after issue. Doesn’t apply to customers who place their first bet on the Virtual Grand National. E-Wallet & Prepaid Card restrictions apply. Your first bet must be settled within 60 days of bet placement. SMS validation may be required. Game restrictions apply. Maximum 30 Free Spins on selected games. Free Spins expire after 7 days. Full T&Cs apply. Full T&C's Apply

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    Ladbrokes Horse Racing
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  • William Hill Racing

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    Unibet Horse Racing Logo
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Main Races and Race Meetings

Downpatrick Racecourse operates ten race meeting throughout the year, opening its doors in March and concluding in October. A standard annual fixture list and race meeting fixtures for Downpatrick Racecourse will resemble:

  • March – The great curtain-raiser of racing in Downpatrick is the Ulster National Day. The titular race is the main event of this meet, acting as a practice run for the Irish Grand National (handicap chase) for many jockeys and boasting prize money of €50,000.
  • May – Downpatrick takes a break in April but returns in May for two racedays. The first is a daytime event that unfolds on the first Bank Holiday Monday of the month. The second is an evening meeting, usually on the Friday preceding the second Bank Holiday.
  • June June sees two racing meets unfold over back-to-back over a single weekend during the middle of the month. Referred to as Festival Saturday and Festival Sunday, these are daytime events that are followed by live music in the evening. The June Festival is considered the jewel in the crown of the Downpatrick Racecourse
  • July Family Fun Raceday takes place every July at Downpatrick. In addition to seven races of the race meeting – including the Irish Jockeys in Support of Downpatrick Racecourse Maiden Hurdle – free activities to keep younger visitors entertained are included in the price of admission.
  • August – August sees two major events at Downpatrick. The first is Style Sunday, where dressing to impress is positively encouraged. The two final races award prestigious luxury holidays to the Most Appropriately Dressed Lady and Best Dressed Man, respectively. Ladies Day also takes place this month, with similar rewards available. The contents here, again tied to the final races of the meet, include the Ladies Upstyle Hair Competition and the Most Stylish Hat and Accessories Competition.
  • September – The solitary event of September is dubbed Get Ready for Autumn. Unfolding mid-month, this meet features seven races and live music after the final event of the day.
  • October – Downpatrick concludes its racing calendar in early October with the End of Season Raceday. There’s a party atmosphere at this meet, ensuring that the season draws to a close with a bang.

Always confirm that events have not been cancelled, postponed or amended before travelling to Downpatrick. All race meets, fixtures and competitions are subject to change due to a wide array of external circumstances.

Downpatrick Racecourse Weather

Punters and race-goers love to keep up with the weather to predict going conditions, as well as making sure what they wear is suitable. Here’s the current weather forecast for Downpatrick Racecourse, Northern Ireland:
DOWNPATRICK WEATHER

Other Events at Downpatrick Course

You will not find events unconnected to racing at Downpatrick Racecourse unless invited to a private function. The venue is available for hire, however, and most race days are lengthy affairs that spill into the night. Live music performances following races are a common occurrence at Downpatrick.

Downpatrick Races

Summary of Downpatrick Racecourse

A unique national hunt flat in Northern Ireland, Downpatrick is an uphill and downhill tight right handed track. Whilst the racing isn’t always of the highest quality it is also well attended and well contested. The main event is the Ulster National and you will find a race meeting from March to October. We love this quirky track at British Racecourses, it is definitely worth a visit

Other Racecourses in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland

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Popular Questions

🏇 How long is Downpatrick Racecourse?

Downpatrick Racecourse is a tight undulating course of 1 1/4 miles.

🏇 What is the dress code for Donwpatrick Races?

Downpatrick is a relaxed racecourse with no formal dress code, though smart casual is the least expected in an unofficial capacity. Several racedays include prizes for appropriate attire, so it’s always worth dressing to impress. Keep the County Down weather in mind, too.

🏇 What is the address of Downpatrick Racecourse?

Downpatrick Racecourse
24 Ballydugan Road
Downpatrick
Co. Down
Northern Ireland
BT30 6TE