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IRELAND
Featuring the Guineas Meeting at The Curragh

8 Days, 7 Nights (including one en-route)
MAY 18 to MAY 25, 2009

6 nights in County Kildare, near The Curragh
4 days/evenings of racing at The Curragh, Punchestown and Clonmel
Training and Farm visits in Counties Kildare and Tipperary

 

Day 1
Mon  May 18
Depart the U.S., if not already in Ireland or elsewhere in Europe.
 
 
Day 2
Tue  May 19
Arrive in Dublin. You will be met at the airport and delivered to Killashee House, our hotel in County Kildare, about forty miles west of the city and not far from The Curragh, headquarters of horse racing in Ireland. We will also provide transport to the hotel from locations in Central Dublin for those that may have come over early and stayed in the city. These transfers will take approximately 50 to 90 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. The remainder of the day is free for adjustment and your own activities.

Killashee HouseKILLASHEE HOUSE: Our hotel's main buildings date back to the 19th Century and the public rooms retain a pleasing atmosphere of Old World elegance. The lodging rooms themselves are modern and large, and in an adjacent building there is a spa/fitness center with an expansive swimming pool. Fine dining is available in the hotel and there's also a downstairs pub popular with the locals. The town of Naas is interesting walking, has all facilities, and is a five-minute cab ride away. Go to www.killasheehouse.com for more information on the property. A full Irish breakfast is included each morning of our stay.

Early this afternoon we'll arrange transport to the Irish National Stud for those who would like to keep active. (Which we recommend, as it will help with your time-zone adjustment.) On the way we'll get our first look at The Curragh. The tour of the National Stud is geared more toward the general traveler than the racing enthusiast, but is nonetheless interesting and makes a good first experience of Ireland. The guides respond well to knowledgeable questioning, and there is an excellent gift shop as well as a small museum and a picturesque Japanese Garden.

PunchestownAt about 5PM we'll all meet up back at the hotel for cocktails, following which we'll proceed to nearby Punchestown Racecourse for an early dinner and an evening of National Hunt racing. Punchestown is Ireland's premier jump racing venue and hosts a multi-day meeting in April which is equaled in importance and prestige only by Cheltenham in England. This evening's program is not a major one, but it will give us a chance to experience the course without a large crowd and possibly encourage a future visit. It doesn't get fully dark until about 10PM at this time of year in Ireland, and the extended dusk on a clear evening provides lovely light for the sport.

The hotel is just minutes away and those wanting an early sleep following an active arrival day can taxi back at the time of their choosing.

 
Day 3
Wed  May 20
We'll be spending a lot of time at The Curragh this week. In addition to being the home to most of Ireland's major races it's also the principal training center. About 80 trainers and 1,500 horses are based here, and they do their work on 6,000 acres of gently rolling turf.

Morning WorkToday's morning will start with a visit to the yard of one of Ireland's leading trainers, where at present several top prospects for the coming Classics are undergoing their preparation. Hopefully we'll get a look at some and see them again later in the week. Following, we'll meet up with the superintendent of the training grounds, who will spend some time with us explaining how he keeps that much real estate and that many people and horses happy and productive.

We'll have a pub lunch locally and then devote the rest of the day to a closer look at the breeding end of things.

Horse breeding is a major economic generator in Ireland and one of its most famous international "brands". The combination of climate, soil, topography, and the long-standing close interaction between human and animal make an Irish horse of any breed highly valued around the world.

As to our sport in particular, on a per-capita people basis Ireland produces far more Thoroughbreds than any other country. As an example, the five major European racing nations (Britain, France, Ireland, Italy, and Germany), are together responsible for more than 90% of Europe's breeding activity. And Ireland, with less than 2% of the major five's population and less than 5% of the land area, is home to over 40% of the Thoroughbred mares and produces more than 40% of the registered foals.

We'll visit two of Ireland's most prestigious private farms this afternoon.

After a freshening back at the hotel, we'll have a group booking at a local restaurant open to all who wish to join up on a "no-host" basis.

 
 
Day 4
Thur  May 21
County Tipperary, about two hours west, is our destination today. We'll have a pub lunch en route and then stop in at Coolmore Stud. With its arguably world's-best lineup of stallions including Montjeu, Galileo, Danehill Dancer, Peintre Celebre, and many others, Coolmore is one of racing's major international powers. We'll have a good look around and see all the top guns in residence. Hopefully the recently-retired Sadler's Wells will also be there to receive our respects.

ClonmelFollowing Coolmore, we'll head on to nearby Clonmel Racecourse, where the racing will get underway at about 5PM. Clonmel is one of Ireland's smaller country courses, and while the racing on this weekday evening may not be absolutely first-rate, the atmosphere, surroundings, and a mixed card of flat and jump races will charm you. We'll be kindly welcomed into the Members' bar.

We'll be back at the hotel by mid-evening.

 
 
Day 5
Fri  May 22
This is an OPEN DAY today for you to use as you please. Possibilities include a day-trip into Dublin city, golf at an area course, or maybe a trip down to Waterford for some crystal shopping. The local towns of Naas, Kilcullen, Newbridge, and Kildare are typically Irish and a short cab ride away. For the adventurous, there is a car-rental agency nearby that will pick you up at the hotel. You may just want to hang around the hotel and use the fitness center and pool.
 
 
Day 6
Sat  May 23
Today is our first big day of racing at The Curragh, far and away Ireland's most important racecourse. Two-thirds of the country's Group races are contested here, including ten of the twelve Group 1s and all five Classics two of which we'll be seeing this weekend. The word "curragh" means "course" in Gaelic, and horses have been running here for a very long time. The first recorded races date back more than 300 years, and there is evidence of chariot racing in the 3rd Century A.D.

The CurraghThe vista from the stands is open and expansive, and the track itself is right-turning and horseshoe-shaped, and with some, but not major, elevation changes. It's considered a very fair, "galloping" course, and has always had the reputation of putting a high premium on stamina.

The two days of racing starting today are known as The Guineas Meeting. It's one of Europe's most important meets, and certainly the focus of the racing world's attention during its late-May time slot. The signature races are the Irish 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas, one mile tests for 3-year-old colts and fillies respectively. Run since the 1920s, in recent years they've become de-facto "middle jewels" in an unofficial Triple Crown series for 3-year-old milers.

The English (and original) Guineas races are run in early May at Newmarket, and following these Irish counterparts the sequences conclude with the St. James's Palace Stakes (for colts) and the Coronation Stakes (for fillies) at Royal Ascot in June. The distinctive characteristics of the three racecourses make for a demanding overall test and the 3-year-old that can come out of the series with the "most points" generally becomes the front-runner for the European milers' championship. The winners also ensure their extremely high value for future breeding purposes.

The Curragh's one-mile course begins with a slight bend (known as "the elbow") before straightening out for the final 6 1/2 furlongs. This, along with the generally heavier course conditions than at Newmarket, usually calls for a bit more staying power than the English race.

Today's 2,000 will be the 89th running. The excellent undercard includes the Group 3 Ridgewood Pearl for fillies and mares, and the Group 3 Greenlands for sprinters. There's also a listed event for 2-year-olds and a high-level handicap.

We'll have lunch at the course. Along with our table for the day, we'll have a block of reserved seats giving fine viewing of the racing.

This evening, following a break back at the hotel, we've made a group booking for dinner at Rathsallagh House, about a half-hour's drive away. We can have a sit-and-drink and enjoy our surroundings both before and after the fine dining. The Rathsallagh dinner has become something of a tradition on our Irish trips and although it's optional and on a "no-host" basis, we think you'll be happy if you join us for the outing.

 
 
Day 7
Sun  May 24
Another cracking good day of racing at The Curragh.

In addition to the fillies' Classic 1,000, the co-feature is the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup, a very important early season race for older horses over an extended ten furlongs. In the last twelve years alone, the Gold Cup has been won by such stars as Daylami, Montjeu, Fantastic Light, Grey Swallow, Hurricane Run, and Duke of Marmalade. Beaten fields have included Dylan Thomas, Bago, Azamour, and Kalanisi.

On the undercard today is the Group 3 Gallinule, a mile-and-a-quarter event that draws local 3-year-olds prepping for the month-away Irish Derby, a couple of high-quality maidens, and several handicaps over varying distances.

We'll have our same lunch table and reserved seats at the course today.

We don't as yet have anything specific planned for this evening. But it's our last night together and if the mood of the group is to stick for a final time together (and it usually is), we'll book a no-host dinner at an area restaurant or just eat in the hotel pub downstairs.

 
 
Day 8
Mon  May 25
The organized itinerary ends this morning, following breakfast and checkout from the hotel. We will provide transportation to Dublin Airport and your flight home, and can also get you into Dublin city should you wish to extend there.

Slan abhaile.

 

CLOSING DATE:

This trip will close on April 10, 2009. Payment in full and all necessary completed paperwork must be received by us no later than this date to insure that you will be able to join the trip.

COME EARLY, STAY LATE:

The itinerary is designed to be full and busy. For those preferring a more leisurely experience, we invite you to consider coming earlier, staying later, and/or combining our arrangements with other European travel.

We can provide transportation for you to Killashee House from and back to the airport or central Dublin on whichever days you choose to arrive and leave. Additional nights at Killashee House can be booked, either before or after our scheduled stay. There is racing many days within a reasonable drive, and golf at some famous courses. And of course the rest of Ireland, besides the small parts of it we'll be seeing this week, is renowned for its beauty and character.

Killashee House has promised to accommodate extensions as best they can, but the space is not blocked or guaranteed. You should let us know as soon as possible if you wish to do this.

ITINERARY & PRICES:

The itinerary includes:

  • Six(6) nights lodging at Killashee House Hotel, in County Kildare.
  • Breakfast each morning as indicated.
  • Four(4) escorted days/evenings of racing at The Curragh, Punchestown, and Clonmel, including transportation to and from the racecourse, course admission, and race card. Dinner and reserved table seating at Punchestown. Members' Bar access at Clonmel. Lunch and reserved seating at The Curragh.
  • Visit to the Irish National Stud, including transportation and admission.
  • Morning training excursion to The Curragh.
  • Visits to two Kildare County breeding farms.
  • Excursion to County Tipperary with visit to Coolmore Stud.
  • Lunch on four(4) days: in Kildare (May 20), in Tipperary (May 21), and at The Curragh (May 23 and 24).
  • Dinner on one(1) night: at Punchestown Racecourse (May 19)
  • Transfer from Dublin Airport or central Dublin to Killashee House Hotel.
  • Transfer from the Killashee House Hotel to Dublin Airport or Central Dublin.
  • Complimentary racing newspaper each day.
  • Welcome cocktails at the Killashee House Hotel.
  • Accompaniment throughout by a knowledgeable American escort.

The itinerary does not include:

  • Airfare to and from the U.S.A.
  • The cost of lunch or dinner except on days indicated.

The Cost of the Trip does not include:

  • Any charges incurred at hotels other than the basic cost of the room, including but not limited to room service, mini-bar, television or video, restaurant or bar service, laundry or dry-cleaning, business services, golf or other activities, and activities arranged through hotel concierge. (All group members will be required to provide a credit card imprint upon check-in at each hotel to guarantee payment for any individual charges.)
  • Excess baggage charges. Please check any applicable intra-European baggage limitations.
  • Costs related to obtaining passports or visas.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Charges incurred for anything other than what is specified in the "Itinerary Includes" summary above.
  • Personal gratuities. As part of our arrangements we will tip our drivers, hotel staff, and farm personnel on behalf of the group. Group members should appropriately tip anyone who provides them with personal assistance, including special assistance by hotel staff. Please note your principal tour escort does not expect and will not accept a gratuity.

The Cost of the Trip Is:

    $2,975 per person, based on double occupancy (twelve or more travelers)
    $3,125 per person, based on double occupancy (ten or eleven travelers)
    $3,175 per person, based on double occupancy (eight or nine travelers)

    $425 Single Supplement, regardless of group size.

    The estimated cost cost for the optional "no-host" dinner at Rathsallagh House on May 23 is $125 per person. For the other no-host dinners, expect approximately $50-60 per person. These estimated costs include a reasonable amount of alcohol and tip.

    Single travelers will be accommodated in the same class of double room as the double-occupancy members of the group.

    We will attempt to match single travelers wishing to double up and thereby avoid the Single Supplement, however it will always be the single traveler's decision whether or not to accept a roommate.

    All trip prices are subject to change up to thirty(30) days prior to trip start to reflect fluctuations in currency exchange rates between the United States and the European Union. Dollar prices quoted here are based on the following exchange rate:

      1 US $ = .735 Euro // 1 Euro = 1.36 US $

OPTIONS:

  • Additional Nights at Killashee House Hotel, if available: $115 per night, per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement $50 per night.

GENERAL INFORMATION:

*This trip is designed for eight(8) to sixteen(16) people. Although we will make every effort to operate the trip, we reserve the right to cancel the trip if it has less than eight subscribers. Should we need to do this, all payments made to Racing-Europe toward the cost of the trip will be fully and promptly refunded.

*You must have a valid passport to enter Ireland.
 

View the itinerary for our other 2009 trip:

For September-October (France) click here
 

Photos © www.actionplus.co.uk , The Curragh Racecourse, and Horse Racing Ireland

 

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