Leopardstown Racecourse Guide
Several courses might lay claim to be situated in Dublin, but only Leopardstown has a valid claim and the top-class Irish racing venue can be found just six miles outside Dublin City Centre. Hosting both flat racing and jumps racing throughout its’ busy year-round racing calendar Leopardstown has a reputation as being arguably the best track in the country.
Leopardstown is a course that attracts the very best horses under both disciplines and the track hosts more than 20 meetings each year including Irish Champions Weekend on the flat and the Dublin Racing Festival over jumps. The course holds two Group One races each season - the rest are run at the Curragh - and no less than 13 Grade One races over obstacles.
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Irish Champions Weekend Tips
Leopardstown Major Meetings
On the flat Leopardstown’s biggest raceday is undoubtedly the opening day of the Irish Champions Weekend which attracts the very best horses from across the UK and Ireland as well as Europe to compete for some top-class prizes.
Two Group One races make up Leopardstown’s Irish Champions Weekend fixture including the Irish Champion Stakes which has been won in the past by some of the sport’s biggest names. Throughout the summer months though there’s no shortage of Group race action.
The jumps though is perhaps where Leopardstown really comes into its’ own over the likes of fellow premier venues such as Punchestown or Fairyhouse.
The four-day Leopardstown Christmas Festival is perhaps the pick of the bunch of Leopardstown’s top-class jumps racing fixtures with a number of Grade One races throughout the festive week and in January the Irish Champion Hurdle and Irish Arkle number amongst the classy contests to unfold at the venue before the Dublin Racing Festival in February and a final chance for some Cheltenham Festival contenders to complete their preparations.
Leopardstown Track Characteristics
Leopardstown is generally fairly flat although there is a slight incline leaving the back straight and turning for home where the straight is also on a slight gradient meaning the track rides a bit stiffer than one might expect and can provide a decent stamina test.
Both the flat course and the jumps course share similar characteristics; both are wide and left-handed and oval-shaped. The turns are quite sharp on both courses and a circuit is around one mile and three quarters; the course suits galloping types although the hurdles course which runs inside the chase course is significantly sharper in nature which often suits front-runners.
The fences at Leopardstown aren’t particularly difficult but they are considered fair and the obstacles come quite close together on the back-straight which can provide a decent jumping test especially for novices.
Leopardstown Draw Bias
Pace bias can be more of a factor to consider than the draw given the nature of Leopardstown lends itself well to those ridden handily. It might be better then to look for those who end to race up with the pace.
However in sprint races of five and six furlongs those horses drawn high have a slight advantage over their rivals when the ground becomes testing.
Leopardstown Leading Trainers
Looking back over the past three years it is perhaps surprising that the big name trainers haven’t done as well as one might expect given their powerful ammunition. On the flat followers of Aidan O’Brien would be operating at a loss of almost 50 points; while Jim Bolger and Jonny Murtagh have even greater deficits.
The trainer to follow at Leopardstown seems to be Donnacha O’Brien who returns a respectable 25 profit despite a relatively modest strike-rate.
It is a similar story over obstacles with the likes of Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Henry de Bromhead all showing losses both over hurdles and fences in the past three seasons. Charles Byrnes and Tony Martin both however are operating in the black over hurdles; while Padraig Roche, Eugene O’Sullivan each show a healthy profit with their chase runners although Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Henry de Bromhead mirror their hurdles exploits and backers of the big three’s chasers would see them in the red.
In National Hunt flat races, Elizabeth Doyle has had just one runner at Leopardstown in the past three seasons which won; while Charles Byrnes, Oli McKiernan and Stuart Crawford all show profit. Joseph O’Brien’s runners in bumpers are certainly notable also.
Leopardstown Leading Jockeys
Over the past three years Declan McDonnagh has been the man to side with, operating at a respectable strike-rate but turning a solid profit in excess of 50 points over the period; while Shane Crosse, Billy Lee and Seamie Heffernan also return in profit.
Colin Keane, Kevin Manning and Shane Foley are jockeys to avoid with all three leaving backers around 50 points in the red. Ryan Moore also shows in the red but the former champion jockey has far and away the best strike-rate of the top jockeys at almost one in three.
Leopardstown Track History
Captain George Quin is the man behind Leopardstown Racecourse which is modelled on Sandown Park in the UK although in reverse given that track is right-handed. Leopardstown was completed and opened its’ doors in 1888 and in 1967 it was acquired by the Horse Racing Board of Ireland.
Leopardstown became a dual-purpose course offering both flat and jumps racing in the 1900s when Harold and Fred Clarke took the reins which led to the sale of the course to HRBI after which the track was renovated with fresh turf and drainage.
Leopardstown Racecourse Address
Leopardstown Racecourse Directions
Given it’s proximity to Dublin city centre getting to Leopardstown is easy and a number of options are available to travellers.
By road: Situated close to the M50 motorway Leopardstown lies around six miles south of Dublin and three miles west of Bray; there is car parking on site which is free although unsurprisingly roads can get very busy in and around the area.
By train: Blackrock is the nearest railway station to Leopardstown Racecourse and shuttle buses operate between the station and the racecourse on racedays. There is also a tram system operated by LUAS, servicing a stop in Sandyford which leaves only a short walk to the track although shuttle buses also operate.
By air: Dublin Airport is situated to the north of Dublin and is around an hour’s drive from the racecourse. The airport operates a direct bus service number 700 from the airport to Leopardstown.