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Lexington, Kentucky
IRELAND
Featuring the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown
and Beach Racing at Laytown

 
8 or 9 Days, 7 or 8 Nights (including one en route)
SEPTEMBER 3 to SEPTEMBER 10 or 11, 2017

6 nights in the seaside town of Malahide
4 days/evenings of racing at Leopardstown, Laytown, Gowran Park, and Kilbeggan
Training and Farm visits in Counties Kildare and Meath
and
An option to extend one day for a Multiple Group 1 Card at The Curragh

 

Day 1
Sun  Sept 3
Depart the U.S., if not joining the trip from Ireland or elsewhere.
 
 
Day 2
Mon  Sept 4
Arrive in Dublin. We'll meet you at the airport and deliver you to to The Grand Hotel, our lodging in Malahide, a seaside village just north of the city. We can also provide transport to The Grand from locations in Central Dublin for those who may have come over early. The airport transfer will take about 20 minutes.

The remainder of the day is free for adjustment and your own interests. We always suggest remaining active if it's your first day over and Malahide offers much to enjoy. The Irish Sea is close by and a seashore walk can be just the right post-flight re-invigorator. The local castle, which dates back to the 1100s, is a short taxi ride or 30-minute walk and guided tours are available. The town has a variety of shops and restaurants, and the train station is a 5-minute walk from the hotel. There's regular service into Dublin city if you want to pop in today or any other time during the week.

Late afternoon/early evening we'll rendezvous in the hotel bar for a round or two, discuss our plans for the week, and get to know one another. After, for those interested, we'll have a no-host group dinner at a nearby restaurant. We won't make it a late night.

The Grand Hotel MalahideTHE GRAND HOTEL: The Grand's location offers the perfect combination of peace and quiet and activity just outside the front door -- turn right and you're by the sea, turn left and you're in the lively village. The lobby is cheerful and welcoming and our "Executive" category bedrooms are large, comfortable, and come with a sea view. The hotel has an adjoining fitness center with sauna, steam, jacuzzi, and a 60-meter swimming pool. In addition to the options available in the town, The Grand provides several in-house dining and bar facilities. Please see the hotel website at www.thegrand.ie for more information on the property.

A buffet breakfast is included on each morning of our stay.

 
 
Day 3
Tue  Sept 5
We start today with a visit to one of the world's most renowned and successful Thoroughbred farms - Ballymacoll Stud in County Meath. The Estate at Ballymacoll dates back to the 1700s and over the years has had more than its share of interesting owners and tenants, including Tammany Hall "boss" Richard Croker and the Irish Army during World War II. The Anglo-American heiress Dorothy Paget, certainly a top ten finalist in the all-time colorful/eccentric category of racehorse owners, purchased the farm in 1946 and held it until her death in 1960. It was then, under new owners Michael Sobell and Arnold Weinstock, that the farm embarked upon a new policy of targeting the Classic races, stressing quality over quantity, and subsequently entered the top rank of international private nurseries.

Youngsters at BallymacollBallymacoll has since produced a total of thirty Group/Grade 1 winners worldwide, including two Epsom Derbys, several other English and Irish Classics, and a Melbourne Cup. Notable successes in the U.S. have been three editions of the Breeders Cup Turf (with Pilsudski and Conduit twice) and a Filly & Mare Turf with Islington. Just this past October, #30 came with the victory of Sir John Hawkwood in the Metropolitan Handicap at Randwick in Sydney. Currently Ballymacoll is home to twenty broodmares (including Islington, who has a 2016 filly by Sea the Stars), and ten yearlings.

Our host for the visit will be Peter Reynolds, under whose nearly 50 years of supervision Ballymacoll has realized almost all of its many achievements. Mr Reynolds invites you to view the farm's website at www.ballymacollstud.com for additonal background.

Following Ballymacoll we'll have a light lunch and, with time dictating our range of operations, take in some of the sights of this historic part of Ireland known as the "Ancient East". With 6,000 years of human history to draw from we won't be short of candidates, and high on the list are the Newgrange Tomb Mound, the Hill of Tara, and the Castles at Trim and Slane. We'll work in as much as we can.

Racing on the BeachLate afternoon comes with a special treat -- the one-of-a-kind Laytown Strand races, the only beach races for Thoroughbreds "under rules" in the Northern Hemisphere. They began 1868 and were originally run in conjunction with the Boyne Rowing Regatta. The regatta is long gone but the horses return to Laytown every September when the tides are right, and it's one of the great racing experiences in the world.

First post this season is at 4:45PM and we'll settle in a bit earlier and take our seats in the the reserved hospitality tent. A fine view of the action is not far away, and a buffet dinner is included in our arrangements.

 
 
Day 4
Wed  Sept 6
On The CurraghUp early and off to The Curragh, home of the racing horse in Ireland since antiquity. In addition to hosting most of the country's major races it's also the principal training center, fulfilling the same role as Newmarket in England and Chantilly in France. Like the other two, it has no counterpart in America. About 80 trainers and over 1,500 horses are headquartered here, and they do their work over 6,000 acres of lovingly cared-for turf. We'll visit the yard of one of Ireland's leading trainers, look at a few of his charges, then go out on to The Curragh itself to see some work and to hear some tales.

Late morning we'll continue on into the nearby town of Kildare, where we'll have a pub lunch and also time for a quick walkaround. Then we head south to County Kilkenny.

Our ultimate destination is Gowran Park Racecourse where, according to the pattern in Ireland at this time of year, the racing will begin at about 4:30PM. On the way we'll stop in at the town of Kilkenny itself. This is considered by many to be one of the prettiest places in Ireland, and it has more than its share of history as well. We'll do a bit of quick exploring, keeping our eye on the clock and the approaching post time at Gowran. You'll have the option to linger in Kilkenny if you'd like, and then independently taxi out to the racecourse to meet up with the group. It's not far and not expensive.

From the Restaurant at GowranGowran is rated in the second rank of Irish courses, just below The Curragh and Leopardstown. It has a number of black type races throughout the year on both the flat and over jumps, and the major owners and trainers are well represented. The surroundings are lovely and we'll have a good view of the action from our table in the panoramic restaurant. Dinner is included.

 
 
Day 5
Thur  Sept 7
Today is a OPEN DAY for you to use as you please. You may want to relax after our busy first two days, or just poke around Malahide. There are betting parlours a stone's throw from the hotel and many times we've whiled away our Racing-Europe "off" days in Ireland by shuttling between them and the closest pub, another experience that's difficult to duplicate back home.

Dublin city is only a half-hour away by frequently scheduled trains. For the more adventurous, one idea might be a two-hour car ride up to Belfast in Northern Ireland to see the Titanic Museum and associated sights in this famous maritime city. There are no formalities at the border but you will need to obtain some U.K. Pounds while there.

 
 
Day 6
Fri  Sept 8
Belvedere HouseWe strike out to West Meath, the next county over, with a mid-morning departure. Starting off the day will be a visit to Belvedere House, a stately Georgian Manor on the shore of Lough Ennell which dates to 1740. It's noteworthy not only for its structure, siting, and beautiful grounds, but also for a tragic family story that took place there and nearby. We'll grab a quick lunch after the visit.

Then it'll be time to get Irish. First objective: The Kilbeggan Whiskey Distillery, Ireland's oldest licenced distillery, whose accreditation goes back to 1757. We'll have an historical tour of the plant before inspecting the current production methods, and follow up with a tasting session.

Action at KilbegganThis should set us into the right mood for the next step into full shamrock-osity: the storied Friday evening races at nearby Kilbeggan Racecourse. Racing has taken place at various sites near Kilbeggan since 1840, and they've been held at the present location since 1901, with only a break during the war years. Jump racing is the sport here, and in 2017 eight fixtures will be hosted. Our visit will be the season-ender, so it promises to be a particularly festive atmosphere.

Reserved hospitality facilities are scarce at Kilbeggan, and those that do exist are usually booked regularly from year-to-year. As we go to press, this problem hasn't yet been solved for us but the course manager is working on it and will do his best. It may be that we'll just turn ourselves loose into the general population and complete the process of going native. It's something we should do at least once this week in any case.

From the track website: "Strange stories cover the span of Kilbeggan's racing history over the past 160 years -- the local horse who won the 1916 Irish Grand National and had to walk home because of the Easter Rising; the horse that drowned during a race; the telegram from the House of Commons that saved the races in 1917; the victory of Prince Aly Khan by the unpronounceable Ynys in 1953, and many more."

A reporter in 1840 wrote of the races: "On every side was to be seen happy hearts, smiling countenances, and sparkling eyes." More recently David Palmer of the Sunday Times opined: "Kilbeggan's irresistible charm puts bigger racetracks -- even Royal Ascot -- in the shade." We're not sure we'd go quite that far, but it sure is a heck of a lot of fun.

 
 
Day 7
Sat  Sept 9
Post time at LeopardstownThis is our principal race day of the week -- Irish Champion day at Leopardstown, kicking off the two-day "Champions Weekend" which has blossomed into one of the major festivals of the European calendar. Ten Group races are contested over the two days, five each at Leopardstown and The Curragh. Five are Group 1s and the ten-furlong Champion today is the top event. One of the very biggest single races of the entire year in Europe, in terms of overall field quality it's consistently ranked in the top five internationally. It's an important factor in determining European champions, and recent past winners have included Daylami, Giant's Causeway, High Chaparral, New Approach, Sea the Stars, So You Think, Golden Horn, and last year's victor, the French 3-year-old Almanzor.

The card is bulked out by the Group 1 one-mile Matron Stakes for fillies and mares; the Group 2 Solonoway, an all-ager also over a mile; and two Group 3s including the Juvenile Stakes for 2-year-olds, which usually produces runners for the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf.

This is another late-afternoon starting program. We'll head over to the course a little after mid-day and settle in at our reserved tables for lunch, and for later we'll also have a block of reserved seats up on the premier level for the best view of the racing.

Tonight we'll make dinner plans at the elegant Kildare Club, where we had most pleasurable experiences in 2014 and 2015. This dinner is on a "no-host" voluntary basis, and participants should budget about $125 per person for it. We think you'll enjoy it if you join in, but it's optional and those not interested can pass and taxi directly back to the Grand Hotel. See the website at www.kclub.ie.

 
 
Day 8
Sun  Sept 10
If you're doing the shorter version of the trip, today is your getaway day. We'll provide transport to the airport for your flight home or into Dublin city if that's your next stop. Slan Abaile and good travels.

If you're extending your stay, another outstanding card of racing awaits us at The Curragh. Three Group 1s head the lineup: The two biggest races of the year for 2-year-olds in Ireland -- The Vincent O'Brien for colts and the Moyglare Stud for fillies -- and the 14-furlong Irish St Leger for 3-year-olds and up. The former two annually produce leading candidates for next year's Classics and the latter is the highest prize of the year in Ireland for the stayers. The supporting races include the Group 2 Blandford for fillies and mares and the Group 3 Flying Five for sprinters.

The CurraghThe Curragh is Ireland's premier course -- most of the Group 1s and all of the national Classics are contested here -- and is undergoing a major renovation during 2017. The racing and training are continuing but the stands are under reconstruction. Our reserved seat hospitality today (including lunch) will be in a ground-level tent, and race viewing will most likely be less than optimal. Management has indicated they may put up a temporary grandstand but they've made no firm commitments on this as yet.

The very high quality of today's racing is why we're making it available on the trip, but the uncertainty of the viewing has made us decide to offer it as an option. We don't think you'll be sorry if you exercise it.

 
 
Day 9
Mon  Sept 11
The organized itinerary well and truly ends this morning following breakfast and checkout from the hotel. We'll provide transportation to Dublin Airport and your flight home, and can also get you into Dublin city should you wish to continue on there. Once again we wish you Slan Abhaile and smooth sailing onward.
 

CLOSING DATE

This trip will close on June 28, 2017. 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:

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

We can provide transportation for you to Malahide and back on whichever days you choose to arrive and leave. Additional nights at the Grand Hotel can be booked, either before or after our scheduled stay. The racing moves out to Listowel in western Ireland for the week following and you may find it an interesting addition to your list of tracks visited. 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. The Grand 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 as it's a very busy time of the year.

ITINERARY & PRICES:

The basic itinerary includes:

  • Six(6) nights lodging at the Grand Hotel in Malahide, in "Executive" class rooms.
  • Breakfast each morning as indicated.
  • Welcome cocktails in Malahide.
  • Four(4) escorted days/evenings of racing at Laytown, Gowran Park, Kilbeggan, and Leopardstown, including transportation to and from the racecourse, course admission, and race card. Dinner at Laytown (September 5) and Gowran (September 6). Lunch at Leopardstown (September 9). Premier level access and reserved seating at Leopardstown (September 9).
  • Visit to Ballymacoll Stud and selected sightseeing in County Meath (September 5).
  • Morning training excursion to The Curragh (September 6).
  • Visit to Belvedere House and the Kilbeggan Whiskey Distillery (September 8).
  • Lunch on four(4) days: in County Meath (September 5) in Kildare (September 6), at Belvedere House (September 8), and at Leopardstown Racecourse (September 9).
  • Dinner on two(2) nights: at the Laytown Races (September 5) and at Gowran Park Racecourse (September 6).
  • Inbound transfer from Dublin airport or Central Dublin to the Grand Hotel Malahide. (Please note the trip price includes transport from Dublin Airport. Transfers from other locations may incur a surcharge.)
  • Outbound transfer from the the Grand Hotel Malahide to Dublin Airport or Central Dublin. (Please note the trip price includes transport to Dublin Airport. Transfers to other locations may incur a surcharge.)
  • Complimentary racing newspaper each day.
  • Accompaniment throughout by a knowledgeable American escort.
The itinerary does not include:
  • Airfare to and from the U.S.A.
  • The cost of dinner or lunch 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 intra-European airline baggage limitations.
  • Costs related to obtaining passports or visas.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Alcoholic beverages, except at the "Welcome" event and the included tasting at the Kilbeggan Distillery.
  • Charges incurred for anything other than what is specified in the "Itinerary Includes" summary above.
  • Personal gratuities. As part of our arrangements we will tipour drivers, farm and barn personnel, and the hotel staffs on behalf of the group. Group members should appropriately tip their incoming and outgoing transfer drivers and 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 (thirteen or more travelers).
    $3,125 per person, based on double occupancy (ten to twelve travelers).
    $3,245 per person, based on double occupancy (eight or nine travelers).

    $475 single supplement, regardless of group size.

    Please note we have not received final costing for some minor elements of the itinerary, and therefore the final price of the trip is subject to minor adjustment until we do.

    The estimated cost for the optional “no-host” dinner at the K Club is $125 per person. This estimated cost includes a reasonable amount of alcohol and tip.

    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. Please note the single-occupancy rooms at The Grand Hotel are somewhat smaller than the double occupancy rooms.

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

      1 US $ = 0.952 Euro // 1 Euro = 1.05 US $

OPTIONS:

  • Attend the races at The Curragh on Sunday, September 10, and stay an additional night at the Grand Hotel (September 10). You will get your outbound airport transfer on Monday September 11 or later if extending further at the Grand Hotel. Includes transportation to and back from The Curragh, entry to the course, race card, and lunch in a tented facility. Entire cost of this Option: $275 per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement: $60.
     
  • Additional nights at the Grand Hotel Malahide, other than the night associated with the Option above (if available): Please inquire with us.

GENERAL INFORMATION:

*This trip is designed for eight(8) to eighteen(18) people. We will make every effort to operate the trip, however we reserve the right to cancel the trip if it has less than eight(8) 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.
 

Photos courtesy of the Grand Hotel Malahide, Ballymacoll Stud, the Laytown Strand Races,
Gowran Park, West Meath Visitor Services, Kilbeggan Racecourse, Horse Racing Ireland, and Kay Minton


View the Itineraries for our other 2017 trips:

For October (England), click here

For December (Hong Kong), click here

 

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