Laytown Races

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Ireland has racecourses of every size, amenity and style; such is the love of the sport in the country. Many claim to offer a unique experience and certainly, in Ireland, if there is a place on which to run a horse then there will be horses run. There is one horseracing venue in the country for which the term unique truly applies however and that is Laytown races.

Free Horse Racing Tips, Click Here! The distinctions from other courses are numerous and start with the observation that there is no course at Laytown at all; no track, and no permanent structures.

Rather, Laytown hosts the only official strand racing in Europe, which, for the uninitiated, is the outstanding spectacle of beach horseracing.

Laytown is a coastal village resort in County Meath and the large beach has always been a central feature of the village for residents and the many visitors who come to enjoy all the beach and coastal activities.

Riding and training horses on sand is not a novel concept of course but at Laytown this concept is taken to new levels by hosting a single fixture in September each year which is officially recognised in the sport under the Rules of Racing.

Races have been held on the beach since 1868 and, remarkably, every single year since. The local parish priest is credited with making the event official in 1901 through his commitment and organisational skills.

The success and appeal of Laytown races was cemented in the 1950s when, before the advent of all weather tracks and training facilities, the event was considered a good trial for the Galway Festival.

The races at Laytown became synonymous with Irish racing culture, and the event regarded as an important attraction in Meath and all of Ireland. An explosion of colour and activity with the racing set against bustling market and food stalls, bookmakers and all manner of associated fun, Laytown drew great crowds as a result.

Laytown races traditionally covered distances from five furlongs to two miles with the longer races requiring a U turn at Bettystown.

Safety restrictions have since limited the longer competitions with no turns now and all vehicles, public, and betting facilities barred from the beach during racing. Numbers of runners was also limited and only professional riders allowed to compete.
Laytown Races, inside rail

With no permanent features or fixtures, the organisation of Laytown races is a massive exercise in logistics. A three acre field, set above the beach in a superb vantage point beside the finishing line, is leased by the race committee and transformed for the event with a parade ring, bookmaker's pitches, temporary grandstand and judge's box. Marquees are erected and house drinks and dining facilities, weighing rooms, a first aid suite and the secretary's office. A natural public grandstand is formed by the sand dunes into which steps are cut for seating.

Laytown Races, winner Accompanied children under 14 get in for free. The event is a popular crowd-puller with attendances often reaching 10,000. The uniqueness of the event is certainly part of the appeal and the close proximity to Dublin means easy access for visitors. Regular train services operate from Drogheda and Dublin to the village and there are special buses from Drogheda on race day.

There is plenty to do in Laytown and Meath besides the racing for those with some leisure time to spare. A popular coastal town in its own right, it has all the features expected from a notable visitor destination, such as pubs, shops and restaurants and there are significant archaeological sites of interest. Other attractions in Co. Meath include Slane Castle and some splendid golf courses.