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Dundalk Racecourse is in County Louth, Ireland, near the border with Northern Ireland and half-way between Dublin and Belfast. Road travellers should take the N52 exit from the M1 and follow signs to the track. Regular trains run between Connolly and Dundalk railway stations on race days.
Dundalk is an oval, all-weather course of about ten furlongs with a Polytrack surface. The run-in is two and a half furlongs. There is a five furlong chute which joins the course at the home bend, three and a half furlongs from the finish.
As has been employed at Chester, a cutaway rail has been introduced in recent years. This has enabled horses travelling well in behind to dart through on the inside. The Polytrack is regarded as the equivalent to good to firm, if not firm ground on turf. When considering your Dundalk betting tips, the horse’s ability to handle fast ground is an important factor.
The likeness to Chester does not end there. By far the most significant of all Dundalk horse racing tips is to consider the draw. Horses drawn low have a big advantage in all sprint races. A breakdown of the winners in recent years shows that two-thirds come from the low-middle section of the draw at five and six furlongs. There is a long run to the bend in seven furlong races which virtually negates any draw bias.
Dundalk Horse Racing History
Dundalk originally had a turf track, used mostly for National Hunt racing. This was closed in 2001. It was a further six years before the new all-weather track was opened exclusively for flat racing. Dundalk was developed at a cost of 35million Euros with a new Grandstand, floodlighting, elevated viewing areas, restaurants and bars.
The Polytrack surface was widely acclaimed as one of the best in the UK. In 2015 the surface was refurbished to alleviate problems of increased kickback during the previous season.
Diamond Stakes Meeting
Dundalk race throughout the year with 38 days in total. Most of these take place during the winter months between November and March. The Group 3 Diamond Stakes meeting is in October with the Listed Patton Stakes taking place in late March.
The most important race staged at Dundalk is the Diamond Stakes, promoted from Listed to Group 3 status in 2009. The race is over ten furlongs for three-year-olds and upwards. It was originally confined to fillies and mares and held at Phoenix Park before being switched to the Curragh in 1991. It was opened to colts and geldings ten years’ later. The race was moved once again to Fairyhouse in 2006 and 2007 before the latest switch to Dundalk in 2008.
It was Ireland’s first Group race on an artificial surface and was added to the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series. The privilege of the winner qualifying for that illustrious meeting was removed in 2011.
The Patton Stakes is the only Listed race at Dundalk, a seven-furlong contest confined to three-year-olds. It was introduced in 2013, replacing the Loughbrown Stakes at the Curragh. In 2018 it was incorporated into the European series of the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Dundalk Famous Races and Racehorses
Ralph Beckett won the first running of the Diamond Stakes at Dundalk with Muhannak in 2008. The following year Aidan O’Brien’s Mastercraftsman won in the hands of Johnny Murtagh. The Irish 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes winner was brought here to prepare for the Breeders’ Cup. That race was also on a Polytrack surface and he finished fourth behind Furthest Land.
Mastercraftsman was one of five winners in the race on Polytrack and seven in total for Aidan O’Brien. One of the best Dundalk tips is to look for trainers who target specific races. Another of O’Brien’s Diamond Stakes winners was Declaration of War in 2012. Joseph O’Brien restrained him at the rear of the field before passing them in the home straight to win impressively. He went on to win the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes and the International Stakes the following year.
Parish Hall was another high class winner of the Diamond Stakes in 2013. Jim Bolger’s colt had been fancied for the 2000 Guineas after winning the Dewhurst Stakes as a two-year-old but injury intervened. He did not race again for 18 months, returning to win the Listed Alleged Stakes prior to his victory at Dundalk. Parish Hall won the Meld Stakes in 2014 and a second Alleged Stakes in 2015.
Aidan O’Brien has won four of the first six runnings of the Patton Stakes. Gale Force Ten won the inaugural race in 2013 and was followed by Washington DC (2016) and War Secretary (2017). His most recent victory came with Mendelssohn in 2018 who was using the race to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
He underlined his claims for Churchill Downs with a stunning 18 lengths victory in the UAE Derby. Mendelssohn was among the favourites to become the first British-trained winner of the Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, a combination of torrential downpours and a hefty bump early in the race put paid to his hopes, the race going to eventual Triple Crown winner Justify.
Dundalk Betting Tips
As you would expect, Aidan O’Brien wins with a good percentage of his runners (21%), though not sufficient to generate a level stakes profit. Michael Halford tops the course statistics in terms of winners and prize money won. Among our Dundalk racing tips for today, it is worth taking a closer look at Andy Oliver’s runners. He is one of the few trainers to yield a level stakes profit at the course in the past three seasons.
Nine times champion jockey Pat Smullen and Colin Keane have been the leading jockeys at Dundalk over the same period. There is virtually nothing between them in terms of wins, percentage or prize money won. There may be greater value in following 2018 2000 Guineas and Oaks winning jockey Donnacha O’Brien who returns a 20% strike rate.