Revealed: UK and Ireland’s Best Loved Racecourses – Horse Racing
In the UK and Ireland, we love horse racing and going to the races. But which racecourses have truly captured our hearts and minds?
From the glitz and glamour of Royal Ascot, the outfits at ladies’ day or for the chance to view the world’s best runners and riders in the flesh, there really is nothing like a day at the races.
In fact, we love it so much that across the UK and Ireland,
just shy of 7 million of us turned out in our finery with our betting slips in hand to get trackside at the races in 2019.
Which racecourses do we love the most? Is it all about the classic courses and the most famous races or do those quaint smaller courses really do it for us?
We set about finding out which are the most loved racecourses in the UK and Ireland. And here’s what we found.
To compile our top 20 courses across the UK and Ireland, we looked at some key factors to create an overall score for each racecourse.
We began with attendance, looking at the people through the turnstiles for every meeting at each racecourse across the full 2019 season.
Next came each course’s score on Trip Advisor plus the number of reviews, followed by its Google Review score and volume of Google Reviews – key to ascertain if the punters are enjoying themselves when going to the races at each different course.
And in today’s racing world with social media playing such an important part we scored each course on Facebook likes, Instagram followers and the number of Instagram posts.
Finally, we also wanted to look at the volume of people searching for each racecourse through Google and how this is changing year on year. That’s a lot of data, but it enabled us to pinpoint exactly which courses get the most love from the paying public.
THE TOP 20 MOST LOVED RACECOURSES
And the winner is: Ascot.
Attended by nearly 600,000 people a year (which accounts for just shy of 10% of all racegoers) and home to Royal Ascot, it’s no surprise to see Ascot racecourse in the number one spot.
Racing has been held here since 1711, but the punters today love it as much as ever with a Trip Advisor score of 4.5 and over 300,000 Instagram posts and 200,000 Facebook likes.
The top three is also made up of Cheltenham – home to the Gold Cup – with the Cheltenham Festival in March always kicking off the horseracing calendar with a bang. Cheltenham is certainly the most searched for racecourse and holds its own in terms of social media.
Interestingly, Chester makes the top three – after all it is the oldest racecourse still in operation in the world.
And wow what a setting too. No wonder it’s the most reviewed racecourse on Trip Advisor in the UK and Ireland.
Home of the Grand National – arguably the most well-known horse race in the world – Aintree, makes the top 10 at number six, while York and Doncaster sneak into the top five. The headquarters of British horse racing, Newmarket, just makes the top 10.
North of the border, Ayr holds its own at number 19 with close to 30,000 Facebook likes and over 100,000 Instagram likes. Ireland’s highest contender in the top 20 is Leopardstown at 15 (getting some major social media love) and Galway at number 20.
THE MOST LOVED RACECOURSES IN THE UK AND IRELAND
But looking at the picture across the entirety of the UK which are the most loved courses in each specific region?
With England being home to some of the world’s most famous courses, it’s no surprise that the overall top three from our top 20 are all English. Specifically, Ascot, Cheltenham and Chester.
Ireland’s top three are Leopardstown, Galway and Limerick – three absolute beauties if you ask us, while in Wales it’s all about Chepstow, Ffos Las and Bangor.
Further north in Scotland, the three racecourses that the public simply can’t get enough of are Ayr, Perth and Musselburgh.
THE TOP 10 RACECOURSES IN IRELAND
Taking just a snapshot of the Irish racecourses, we can see that the top 10 is made up of the following.
And here’s a little bit of info about each:
1. Leopardstown: Founded in 1888 and home to the Irish Champion Stakes. Leopardstown welcomed 175,000 racegoers in 2019, and is the most loved racecourse in Ireland, according to our data.
2. Galway: Also called Ballybrit Race Track and founded in 1869, Galway is home to the Galway Races – with the festival kicking off on the last Monday of July. The seven day festival is one of the longest Irish meets in the season.
3. Limerick: Over 100,000 visitors descended on Limerick Racecourse in 2019, for both National Hunt and Flat Racing. The right-handed oval track is the seventh different horse racing location in Limerick since 1790.
4. Punchestown: Known as the Home of Irish Jumps Racing, Punchestown Racecourse was founded in 1861. It hosts the annual Punchestown Festival – for many this is the Irish equivalent of the Cheltenham Festival. Key races include the Punchestown Gold Cup, Champion Chase, Champion Hurdle and the World Series Hurdle.
5. Dundalk: Dundalk Stadium first saw horseracing in 2003 and welcomed close to 50,000 spectators across the 2019 racing calendar. It’s home to the Patton Stakes, Diamond Stakes and Mercury Stakes.
6. Curragh: Curragh racecourse is usually referred to as simply “The Curragh” and is one of Ireland’s most important Thoroughbred racecourses, hosting its first race in 1727. It is the home of the Irish Derby, held three weeks after the Epsom Derby.
7. Fairyhouse: Home to both the Irish Grand National and the Irish Gold Cup, Fairyhouse Racecourse is one of the most famous and important courses in Ireland.
8. Listowel: Celebrating 150 years of racing in 2008, Listowel Racecourse is located in County Kerry and is home to the Harvest Festival. The biggest race of year at Listowel is the Guinness Kerry National, run on the Wednesday of the festival.
9. Cork: Known as Cork Racecourse Mallow, it was founded in 1924 and was originally called Mallow Racecourse. Today, the most famous races to take place here are the Munster Oaks and Hilly Way Chase.
10. Gowran Park: Located in County Kilkenny, Gowran Park is a picturesque venue that hosts 16 events throughout the year. The Thyestes is the most valuable event and attracts the biggest crowds.
Leon Blanche, Head of Communications at BoyleSports comments:
“There’s nothing quite like a day at the races. From the hype around Royal Ascot, to the Instagram coverage and the chance to see the world’s best runners and riders in the flesh, we love it in the UK and Ireland.
“In fact, we love it so much that just shy of 7 million of us turned out in our finery with our betting slips in hand to get trackside at the races in 2019.
“At BoyleSports we wanted to settle the debate once and for all and find out which is the most loved racecourse by racegoers. And to really understand the love, we had to look at a variety of factors.
“Which course is getting talked about the most on social media, which do the punters rate the most in terms of experience and which is being searched for on Google.
“All this information enables us to build out a picture of where the love really lives when it comes to our racecourses.”
BET ON HORSE RACING WITH BOYLESPORTS
We all have our personal favourite racecourses. And whichever racecourse across the UK and Ireland holds a special place in your heart and for whatever reason, you can follow all the action with us at BoyleSports.
We’ll bring you our up-to-date odds for every race and offer our expert predictions on all the top races this year. Will you fall in love with horse racing all over again in 2022?
To uncover which horse racing courses are the best loved in the UK and Ireland, desk research was undertaken to create a long list of every racecourse.
Data was then collected for the following variables: type of racecourse, country, opening year, racecourse owner, UK attendances (as of 2019 as the most up to date figures currently available), Tripadvisor score and the number of reviews, Google review score and the number of reviews, Facebook likes, Instagram follower count, Instagram posts, average monthly search volume and search volume YoY.
A score was then applied to every customer-based metric (Tripadvisor, Google, Facebook, Instagram and Google search trends) to reveal the overall best loved racecourses in the UK and Ireland. The Index score is rated out 85 (the number of courses).