Fairyhouse Racecourse is one of Ireland’s most highly regarded National Hunt courses, the first recorded race meeting at this venue having taken place way back in 1848. Currently, this track hosts 20 annual meetings with both National Hunt and flat racing events on the calendar.
The three-day Easter Festival is the biggest and most prestigious meeting on the Fairyhouse calendar. The standout race at the meeting is undoubtedly the Irish Grand National which first took place in 1870. The venue hosts flat racing too although the only Group race on the flat at Fairyhouse is the Group 3 Brownstown Stakes which takes place in July.
The course at Fairyhouse is wide, square-shaped – more of a rhombus really – and right-handed, galloping in nature with a length of one mile and six furlongs. There is an uphill gradient from the stands to the start of the back straight, this being followed by a noticeable descent over the back section of the course. There is a slight uphill gradient on the three furlong home straight but this isn’t the most challenging finish around.
Fairyhouse Jumps Course
When the course is used for chases there are 11 obstacles on a circuit and the run-in has a length of approximately a furlong. The fences here are renowned as being amongst the stiffest around and unconvincing types will likely be caught out by some of these jumps, especially the ones in the back straight. Of the utmost importance is being in touch with the leader when heading into the final two jumps with the short run-in rarely allowing a serious late challenge from deep.
Top trainer on Chase and Hurdle is Gordon Elliott who has 25 wins from 157 runners on the former and 33 from 204 on the latter, at the time of writing.
Fairyhouse Flat Course
There are no five furlong races at Fairyhouse, however data from six furlong and seven furlong races indicate that there is a noticeable degree of bias with those closest to the inside rail fairing best over both these distances, if they can get out early. This is unsurprising given that they are well placed to take on the sharp home bend on the inside. A lower numbered stall is certainly no guarantee of success however with any hopeful runner in the lower third of the draw also needing to be happy riding prominently. Should they fail to do so, then they will find themselves becoming boxed in by the rail and in the absence of a clear run, jockeys can do little other than regret making a sluggish start.
Over longer distances, there is generally little in the way of bias in terms of pace and draw. The final three furlongs possess an uphill gradient and this can result in fields being stretched out somewhat in lengthier races, some jockeys tending to over-race in the earlier stages. As such, hold-up horses can take advantage of the gaps available and make a late surge although generally prominent runners will still fare slightly better than the rest.
This is a relatively level track that is generally fair and it suits horses that need to pace in order to race prominently. As already mentioned, the draw has some bias on this course and on the shorter trips there can be issues for a hold-up horse when given a low draw given that they tend to race right up to the rail in the straight.
The pick of the trainers in terms of overall winners on the flat at Fairyhouse is Joseph P O’Brien with 11 wins from his 55 runners, while in National Hunt Flat he has also enjoyed six wins from his 11 runs at the time of writing.