Leopardstown, Ireland

One of Ireland’s top dual purpose tracks, which as well as staging the hugely successful Dublin Racing Festival (in 2021 it will be the 4th year of this event) and of course is home to the Irish Champion Stakes, which is held every September, as part of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend. See https://www.leopardstown.com/ for further information. And https://www.curragh.ie/ for details of the 2nd day of this event, which includes the Irish St. Ledger.

The Irish Champion Stakes has thrown up some glorious duels down the years – perhaps the most memorable one being the re-match of Galileo and Fantastic Light in 2001, but the cast list down the years is simply illustrious.

Getting there

Leopardstown can be deemed a City track, it’s on the Southside of Dublin City Centre and has easy access off the M50, the main arterial route around Dublin. From Dublin airport, it will take approximately 35 minutes in a taxi. It can also be reached by Dublin aircoach https://www.aircoach.ie/ If you are staying in the City Centre, you can also reach by LUAS (the Dublin tram system). You need to join the green line at St. Stephen’s Green and alight either at Sandyford – where on big days there is a courtesy bus to the racecourse, or Central Park, where you can easily walk into the course.

For those slightly less mobile, there are plenty of golf buggies, transporting people from the car parks to the entrance turnstiles.

Accommodation

You don’t need me to delve into detail on this blog, for hotel options, but if you want close proximity to the racecourse, the 3 nearest hotels are: Clayton Hotel at Leopardstown: https://www.claytonhotelleopardstown.com/ and the Talbot Hotel at Stillorgan: https://www.talbothotelstillorgan.com/ The Beacon Hotel is not too far away either https://www.thebeacon.com/ – The Beacon would be about a 15-20 minute leisurely walk to the course, as would the Talbot.

Racecourse

The facility at the time of writing, is coming to the end of a period of substantial investment and redevelopment. Older racegoers may remember the Jodami bar which was a popular haunt, but the main stand has been totally revamped with a great selection of drinking and eating options. Plenty of hospitality options if you want comfort – see https://www.leopardstown.com/ for further information.

I would recommend on the bigger days – the Christmas Festival, Dublin Racing Festival and the Champion Stakes – to pay for a dedicated seat in the upper stand, unless you want the hurly-burly of the lower part of the stands. However, generally, you would find a quiet spot on the flat tarmac below the stands.

On those big days, the bars and other food outlets are extremely congested, so careful planning and patience is required.

A good spot to aim for if not in hospitality, is the 3rd floor of the main stand. There is lots of comfortable seating, bar, coffee dock and food offerings, as well as a balcony that overlooks the parade ring. If you’re with others and you get a pew, I would advise staying there for the day, taking it in turns to to go and watch races, paddock watching etc.

On the 1st floor as you’re going up the escalators, do stop off and look at some of the racing paraphernalia, which includes Pat Eddery’s Dancing Brave colours.

General vibe

It very much depends on the event. Leopardstown stage a highly successful summer series, where after racing there is a live band performance, so very much anything goes, as these evenings also attract non-racing aficiandos. The Longines Irish Champion Stakes, comes with the usual best-dressed contests, so this is the day to don the finery. The winter meetings, comfort and warmth are the maxim.

Summary

A better mix of an annual racing programme, would be hard to find anywhere. Absolutely superb meetings to choose from, whatever is your want.

Easy to get to, with full facilities across all areas. From takeout van food, to fine-dining.

The only minor criticism I would have is that sometimes it is very evident that there is a lack of staff training in the food/drink outlets and this can be frustrating.