Sea The Stars, Vintage Crop, Hardy Eustace and Sinndar. These four remarkable equine stars made their mark in horseracing around the world. All four were champions in their own right and all four, like many other world-famous racehorses, were prepared for their domination of the racing scene on the Curragh Training Grounds.
Not everyone may be aware that the world-class training grounds are not solely for the use of Curragh-based trainers, but are actually available to hire by any trainer or point-to-point handler in Ireland. This means that every yard, whether it be home to one or 100 horses, can have access to exactly the same gallops used by the likes of John Oxx, Dermot Weld, Michael O’Callaghan, John Feane, Ken Condon, Johnny Levins, Kevin Prendergast, Robbie McNamara, Willie McCreery, Tracey Collins, Darren Bunyan, Conor Dwyer, Adrian Keatley and Johnny Murtagh on a daily basis. Trainers not based on the Curragh also use the facilities including Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott, Jessica Harrington and Charles O’Brien.
The Curragh Training Grounds provide trainers with the opportunity to prepare their horses on approximately 1,500 acres of world-class training facilities.
The standard and range of gallops on offer is really quite remarkable and led to Dermot Weld describing the facilities as “unquestionably one of the finest training grounds in the world”. Trainers are able to choose from over 70 miles of immaculately-maintained grass gallops if they want to work their horses on turf. The ground staff rotate the use of the gallops, meaning that ground is kept fresh and the quality of the surface is continually excellent.
In addition to the numerous turf gallop options, there are approximately 12 miles of peat gallops and eight all-weather tracks available to work on. There is even variation in the surfaces on the all-weather tracks. There are two made up of a sand and fibre mix, one surfaced with polytrack, and five that are woodchip-based. With so many options on offer, horses are able to have plenty of variety in their schedules and could be worked on a different gallop every day of the week if the trainer so desired.
The range of gallops at the Curragh Training Grounds provides trainers with great scope to tailor each horse’s work to suit their individual needs, with gallops varying in length, gradient and surface. One of the most famous is the testing Old Vic, a wide woodchip gallop which was funded by Sheikh Mohammed following the horse of the same name’s victory in the Irish Derby in 1989. Starting off down at the Ballymany end of the Curragh, the Old Vic climbs all the way up to the summit of Walsh’s Hill, providing a stern stamina test over nine furlongs. Running alongside it is the polytrack gallop, also nine furlongs long.
To ensure that National Hunt and point-to-point trainers are well catered for, the training grounds have recently invested in a new all-weather schooling strip that is two furlongs in length and has both Easyfix hurdles and Easyfix fences on it. This compliments the extensive schooling facilities over both fences and hurdles that were already on offer to make schooling jumpers as straight forward as possible. The Late Dessie Hughes, trainer of two-time Champion Hurdle victor Hardy Eustace, commented: “The Curragh Training Grounds is the best place in Europe to train National Hunt and Flat Horses, the stats are there to prove it”.
The Curragh Training Grounds are maintained 365 days a year by a skilled and dedicated team of approximately 15 people, led by dedicated manager Pat Kelly and his assistance Richard Brophy. The constant attention helps to keep the gallops in fantastic condition year-round and means that there are gallops available to use every single day of the year without fail, providing trainers with continuity and peace of mind during extreme weather conditions.
The world-class facilities offered by the Curragh Training Grounds have been developed over the years and are the product of a multi-million Euro investment. The money was put into the grounds to ensure that they would remain comparable to top-class training facilities around the world and would therefore provide Irish trainers with the ideal conditions on which to prepare their horses for races both in Ireland and on the international stage. The training grounds’ record speaks for itself and the fact that horses prepared on the Curragh Grounds have gone on to win Irish and English Derbies, the Melbourne Cup, the Hong Kong Mile, the Belmont Stakes, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Aintree Grand National shows that when it comes to preparing horses for the highest-class races in both the Flat and National Hunt spheres, the Curragh Training Grounds are second to none.
Trainer John Oxx recently acknowledged the huge advantage of having access to such high-quality facilities, stating “Curragh trainers are now reaping the benefits of the recent significant investment in the facilities of the Curragh Training Grounds. The commitment to maintain and upkeep the gallops to the highest standards has ensured that trainers based on the Curragh continue to win top races all over the world”.
Surprisingly, given the quality of the facilities on offer, the Curragh Training Grounds can be hired from just €4 per day, with a daily gallop and schooling rate available for non Curragh-Based Trainers. The daily rate means that if a horse is out of work for any length of time, the trainer hasn’t lost out by paying an annual fee. The idea is to provide flexible, affordable access to world-class facilities for every trainer in Ireland.
The location of the Curragh Training Grounds makes them easily accessible, nestling in the heart of Kildare, the Thoroughbred County. They are situated just off exit 12 on the M7, close to major racing establishments including RACE, the Irish Racecourse Trainers Association, the Racecourse Owners Association, the Turf Club, Horse Racing Ireland and the Irish National Stud. There is also a large equestrian shop and café overlooking the grounds.
For further information, contact Pat Kelly, Curragh Training Grounds Manager 0878321215 or Shane Gorey 0873482768