Down Royal Race Track in Ireland
Established in 1685, the Down Royal Racecourse has long been a feature of the Irish horse racing industry. The venue has always drawn large crowds as horses thundered down the racecourse, leaping over challenging jumps at top speed. Crowds gasped and cheered, lost or gained money and enjoyed the social significance of the event. Today not much has changed. The steeplechase racecourse was built under the direction of the Down Royal Corporation of Horsebreeders which was created that same year by Royal Charter with the objective of encouraging horse breeding in Down county.
Down Royal started life as a three-mile, horseshoe shaped racecourse at Downpatrick. However, it wasn’t long before the Corporation saw the need to further expand and improve the race track – a trend which has continued down to this day. Currently the grounds enjoy a new grandstand complete with corporate boxes, VIP hospitality suites and a public bar. It also has a membership only suite, restaurants, a Weigh Room and an Administration Complex. The complex features a Member’s Suite which can cater to more than 300 people and which is reserved exclusively for members, owners and trainers.
Perhaps the most famous horse to ever run a race at Down Royal was Byerley Turk. The horse, who is today noted as one of the founders of the thoroughbred breed, was actually a cavalry charger on his way to Boyne. He enjoyed a short race on the track in 1690 before continuing on his way with his owner, Colonel Byerley.
The racecourse is currently circular in shape with 10 different jumps, an uphill section and a downhill section. Two of the jumps feature ditches. The racecourse is situated in Down County and can be reached from either Belfast or Dublin with relative ease. Each year it hosts a number of great races, including the Down Royal Festival of Racing which draws top Hunt Racing competitors to this small racecourse in Ulster, Ireland.