Fairyhouse Racecourse

Fairyhouse Racecourse is the home to the Irish Grand National and only
30 minutes away by car

If you've not yet attended the races then it's very different experience to watching it on the telly or listening to the radio.

Fairyhouse Racecourse has got us off to a flying start with a Prize Draw for a Free Entry Family Pass (2 adults & 2 kids over 16 & any under 16's free) to the Irish Grand National on Easter Monday 17th April. If you want to win this amazing experience you'll have to be quick and beat the countdown clock to enter.

Entry Instructions are at the end of this page.

UPDATE: Prize has been won by Alan Smith of Spire View.

We asked Gillian, a long time resident of Johnstown and horse enthusiast, about her place of work and this family friendly venue.

What's you connection with the racecourse?

"I'm the Operations Manager which means I look after most of the services that enables the venue to function such as catering, ticket sales, vets, security, stewards....a whole host of activities."

How did you get involved?

Actually it just happens to combine a job I really like with horses that I've grown up with and so it's great combination.

Do you ever gamble?


What is Fairyhouse?

"It's one of the largest and one of the most important racetracks in the country. It hosts the iconic Easter Festival of Racing incorporating the famous 'Race of the People' which is the Boylesports Irish Grand National each Easter Monday as well as the Ryanair Gold Cup on Easter Sunday."

Why is it called ‘The Race of the People’?

"It is the one race where the ordinary man and woman, small-time syndicate, the small or part-time trainer with just a few horses in their yard can beat the racing royalty like Michael O’Leary and his Gigginstown House Stud operation, Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott, JP McManus and Rich Ricci et al."

"The Irish Grand National is a Grade A Handicap Steeplechase run over 3 miles and 5 furlongs and 24 fences." 

Do the racing royalty still win?

"No, not at all, we have legendary stories like Lion na Bearnai trained by small-time trainer Tom Gibney in Co Meath winning it for a syndicate of tradesmen, 50/1 shot Liberty Counsel a mare for small trainer and former international Danish dressage rider Dot Love, all-female team of Katie Walsh riding on Thunder and Roses for Sandra Hughes, Nina Carberry winning on Organisedconfusion for her trainer uncle Arthur Moore....

....it’s definitely the most beloved race in the Irish racing calendar with the biggest racing viewership on the RTÉ sports schedule."



Won in 2015 by Sandra Hughes’ trained Thunder and Roses ridden by Katie Walsh and owned by Gigginstown House Stud. The 1st female rider/ trainer combination to win the race.

What prize money do they win?

"This year sees a huge increase in sponsorship at the Fairyhouse Racecourse Easter Festival with the showpiece Irish Grand National becoming the most valuable Irish jumps race and third richest between Ireland and UK with a prize of €500,000."

During the weekend itself there is prize money in excess of €1.36 million."

Prize Money Comparison:
€1,190,000   English Grand National
€685,000      Cheltenham Gold cup
€500,000      BoyleSports Irish Grand National
€476,400      Cheltenham Champion Hurdle
€417,000      Queen Mother Champion Chase

"Last year to commemorate the 1916 winner we had Jack Lynn present the winning connections with their trophy, Jack is the son of the winning jockey Johnny Lynn who rode All Sorts to victory that day in 1916.

On the day of the Easter Rising, all the British soldiers present at the racecourse commandeered all the vehicles in the car park to race back to Dublin and all the train services were stopped to halt rebel movements and as a result everyone had to walk home after racing including the winning horse All Sorts who took two days to walk the 100km back to his stables near Mullingar!

One poor punter took four days to get back to Co Clare and surprised his wife who thought he must have been killed in the Rising in Dublin! "

Article Source www.irishtimes.com

How long has the event been going for?

"Since 1870 and every year except 1919 & 1941 due to the First and then Second World Wars. The very first winner was a horse called Sir Robert Peel, with 167 sovereigns for the winner, in comparison to the €500,000 on offer today"

How many are expected?

"Over 25,000 are expected and The Irish Grand National is the most watched race on Irish terrestrial TV with over 380,000 turning in to watch the 2016 race"

Is it a one day event?

"No, the BoyleSports Irish Grand National is on Easter Monday but the Fairyhouse Easter Festival 2017 runs over the three days from the 16th - 18th April with 223 races."

The Fairyhouse Racecourse website has all the information you need for a great day out including how to get there, what to wear and where to stay.

Plan Your Day

Is the Tuesday a day of rest?

"No, actually it's busy, noisy and fantastic fun!"


"It's the children's Easter fun day. It's a free entry day full of activities to keep the younger kids entertained for the day."

You can find out more online

Prize Draw

The Prize Draw answer is in this months edition and really isn't too much of a brain teaser, simply name the Voluntary First Aid Group that will be in attendance on the weekend?

UPDATE: Prize has been won by Alan Smith of Spire View.

The Order of Malta Ambulance Corps was the correct answer.

Fairyhouse Racecourse Prize Draw

More interesting facts for horse racing enthusiasts:

  • The Grand National quickly became Ireland's most valuable and prestigious steeplechase and each success has its own rich tale, none more amazing than the win in 1929 of a six year old mare ‘Alike', owned and ridden by 5'4” Frank Wise who was missing three fingers and who rode with a wooden leg

  • The most successful horse in the history of the famous race is Brown Lad, Trained by Tom Dreaper, who claimed victory in the event three times, in 1975, 1976 and 1978. He is also the only horse in the last 50 years to have won it more than once.

  • Tom Dreaper holds the best record in the race, winning it no less than 10 times with 10 different horses

  • Arkle won the race for Tom Dreaper in 1964, a horse that became a household name after carrying 2 ½ stone more than his nearest rival. Two years later he trained Flying Bolt, who carried a staggering 12 stone 7lbs, half a stone more than his stablemate

  • Desert Orchid, a UK entry, won the race in 1990 carrying 12 stone, after winning the Gold Cup a year previous

  • Jenny Pitman was the first female trainer to win the race with Mudahim in 1997

  • Bentom Boy in 1984 won under the first female Jockey, Ann Ferris

  • Nina Carberry won the 2011 renewal on Organisedconfusion trained by her uncle Arthur Moore

  • In 2015 the Sandra Hughes-trained Thunder and Roses, ridden by Katie Walsh became the first female trainer and female rider combination to win the Irish Grand National with Thunder And Roses

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