Jump races or National Hunt races are races that include
obstacles for the horse to negotiate. There are two types of obstacles, hurdles
and fences. Jump racing in Ireland takes place all year round. Four of
Ireland’s 26 racecourses, Punchestown, Downpatrick, Kilbeggan and Wexford solely cater
for jump racing.
National Hunt races are held over a variety of distances
from two to four miles and one furlong. The longest race in Ireland is the La
Touche Cup which is held over the unique banks course at the Punchestown
festival in late April.
Flat races are races that range from five furlongs to two
miles and are run without any obstacles. Flat racing in Ireland primarily takes
place on grass but a large number of Flat races are run on the all-weather
surface at Dundalk. Dundalk is Ireland’s only all-weather racecourse and racing
takes place there all year round, while the turf season only runs between
mid-March and late October.
The Curragh is the headquarters of Flat racing in Ireland
and plays host to many of the biggest races in the season. It is one of three
tracks that only host Flat racing, the others are Dundalk and the once-a-year
meeting on the beach at Laytown.