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Featuring the Irish Derby at The Curragh
8 Days, 7 Nights (including one en route)
JUNE 20 to JUNE 27, 2011
6 nights in County Kildare, near The Curragh
4-5 days/evenings of racing at The Curragh, Naas, and Tipperary
Training and Farm visits in Counties Kildare and Tipperary
Depart the U.S., if not already in Ireland.
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 and training in Ireland. We'll also provide transport to Killashee House from locations in Central Dublin for those that have come over early. These transfers will take approximately 60 to 90 minutes. The remainder of the day is free for adjustment and your own activities.
KILLASHEE HOUSE: We return again to Killashee House, our regular home in Ireland since 2007. Situated amid 80 acres of gardens outside the town of Naas in County Kildare, the main building dates back to 1861. It has grand public rooms, a lively lobby bar, choices for fine and casual dining, and a spa/fitness center with an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Visit www.killasheehouse.com for more information on the property. A full Irish breakfast is included each morning of our stay.
At about 2PM we will organize transport over to the Irish National Stud, for those who would like to keep active this afternoon. (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 horseman, 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, nearby, the Japanese Garden.
At 6PM we'll meet up again for cocktails in the hotel bar to get better acquainted and organized for the rest of the week. We've planned nothing for the evening, and it might not be a bad idea to take it easy, have a simple dinner at the hotel's downstairs pub, and turn in early. We have a lot on tap in the next five days.
This morning we'll begin with a visit to The Curragh and the yard of one of Ireland's leading trainers. We'll accompany a "lot" over to the gallops and see some work. Following this, we'll rendezvous with the superintendent of the training grounds, who will spend some time with us explaining how he keeps 80 trainers, 1,500 horses, and 6,000 acres of turf interacting properly.
Following The Curragh we'll have a pub lunch in the nearby town of Kilcullen, after which we'll visit a private farm, one of the most prestigious in the world.
The breeding of Thoroughbreds is one of Ireland's major economic generators and one of its most famous international "brands". The five major racing countries (Britain, France, Ireland, Italy, and Germany), together account 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 have a late-afternoon break at the hotel and at about 5:30PM head off to nearby Naas Racecourse for a casual evening of racing which will include a barbecue dinner. Naas is not a major racecourse but it's a pretty one, and it's not unusual for runners from the big stables to show up on the card here. It doesn't get dark until about 10PM at this time of year, and the extended dusk on a clear evening provides a lovely light for the sport.
You can have a late sleep this morning, and at approximately 11AM we'll head out. Our destination: County Tipperary, about two hours west. We'll have a pub lunch en route and then make our first stop at Coolmore Stud. One of racing's major international powers, Coolmore's incomparable stallion roster includes Montjeu, Galileo, Danehill Dancer, High Chaparral and, standing his second season, the recently retired 4-time Ascot Gold Cup winner Yeats. We'll have a good look around and see all the top guns. Hopefully the pensioned Sadler's Wells will still be there to receive our respects.
Following Coolmore, we'll have another slow-sunset evening of atmospheric Irish country racing, this time at the course near the town of Tipperary. Like Naas last night, there will be no major racing on the card. But you never can tell when some highly-regarded newcomer from Coolmore/Ballydoyle might get dropped in – some of their best recent runners broke their maiden here. The betting will tip us off.
We'll be cordially welcomed into the Members' Bar, and eating possibilities abound all over the course.
Back at the hotel around 10:30.
This is an OPEN DAY for you to use as you please. Suggestions for it would include a day trip into Dublin City, golf at an area course, maybe even a journey down to Waterford for some crystal shopping. For the adventurous, there's a car-rental agency nearby that will pick you up at the hotel. The local towns of Naas, Kilcullen, Newbridge, and Kildare are typically Irish and only a short cab ride away. On past Irish trips the hard-cores among us have passed a satisfying afternoon in Naas, pub crawling and trying to beat the televised races from England.
There's a card at The Curragh this evening, starting at about 6PM, and we'll supply transport over to and back from the racecourse. This is the easy-going Friday night start-up to the Derby meeting. There are no major races, but the atmosphere is fun and relaxed. And it's a good chance to get yourself acquainted with the layout without the press of too many people.
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. The word "curragh" means "course" in Gaelic, and horses have been running here since the 1100s. The first recorded races date back more than 300 years.
The view is open and expansive from the stands, and the track itself is horseshoe-shaped and right-turning, with a long chute that can accommodate races of almost a mile on the straight. There are 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.
Today's program features the Group 1 Pretty Polly, an all-age event for fillies and mares at ten furlongs, supported by two Group 3's for older horses: the Curragh Cup at a mile and three-quarters and the International at a mile and a quarter. The Pretty Polly, named for the great female runner of the early 20th Century, could give us a candidate or two for the Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf. There are usually a couple of good maiden races and handicaps on the card as well.
We'll have lunch at the course. The table is ours for the day and we'll also have some nearby premier-level reserved seats for the best race viewing.
This evening, following a break back at the hotel, we've made dinner plans at the understatedly elegant Rathsallagh House, a country lodge about a half-hour's drive away. We can have a sit-and-drink and enjoy the surroundings both before and after the fine dining. The Rathsallagh dinner is 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 in for the evening.
Sun June 26
Irish Derby Day. This is the highlight day of the entire Irish racing season – the crowd comes to have a good time and doesn't disappoint anyone.
The race itself was first run in 1866, but it was in 1962, when the purse was dramatically increased, that it took its place among the very top prizes of the European year. The timing on the calendar makes it the logical next stop for horses coming out of the English and French Derbys, and over recent years it's generally been contested by the winners of at least one of these Derbys, and often been won by the winners of one or the other of them. The 2003 running saw the memorable clash of two colts owned by the same man -- the Aga Khan's English Derby 3rd Alamshar prevailing over French Derby winner Dalakhani by a half-length after a stretch-long duel, the only race the latter ever lost. We can always hope for something like that in 2011.
The traditional companion race today is the Group 2 Railway Stakes for 2-year-olds, an event that has an even longer history than the Derby, dating back to 1851. It's the biggest juvenile race of the year to this point, and famous winners from the past include Nijinsky and Rock of Gibraltar, and more recently George Washington, Holy Roman Emperor, and Mastercraftsman. The excellent undercard also has a Group 3 sprint, a rich listed race, and several valuable handicaps.
We'll have our same lunch table and premier-level seats as yesterday.
We don't as yet have anything specific planned for this evening, but it's Derby night so there is sure to be some fellowship occurring in the hotel bar. It's our last night, so hopefully all will wish to stick together for a final dinner at the hotel or somewhere nearby.
Sad to say, the organized itinerary 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 extend there.
This trip will close on April 20, 2011. 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 Killashee House and back 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 most days within a reasonable drive, and golf at some of the more famous courses might be a bit easier to book before the Derby crowd has shown up or after it's moved on. 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. Dublin itself is not a city we would claim to know well, but we'll do our best with hotel recommendations for you there also.
Please let us know as soon as possible if you wish to extend your trip.
ITINERARY & PRICES:
The itinerary includes:
The itinerary does not include:
- Six(6) nights lodging at Killashee House Hotel, in County Kildare.
- Breakfast each morning as indicated.
- Five(5) escorted days/evenings of racing at The Curragh, Naas, and Tipperary, including transportation to and from the racecourse, course admission, and race card. Dinner at Naas (June 22), Members' Bar access at Tipperary (June 23), Lunch, premier level access, and seating at The Curragh (June 25 and 26).
- Visit to the Irish National Stud, including transportation and admission.
- Morning training excursion to The Curragh.
- Private farm visit in County Kildare.
- Full-day excursion to County Tipperary with visit to Coolmore Stud.
- Lunch on four(4) days: in Kilcullen (June 22), en route to Tipperary (June 23), and at The Curragh (June 25 and 26).
- Dinner on one(1) night: Barbecue at Naas Racecourse (June 22).
- 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 Cost of the Trip 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 Is:
- 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 baggage limitations.
- Costs related to obtaining passports or visas.
- Travel insurance.
- Alcoholic beverages, except for the "Welcome" cocktail hour.
- 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 and the hotel staff 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.
$2,925 per person, based on double occupancy (thirteen or more travelers)
$2,975 per person, based on double occupancy (eleven or twelve travelers)
$3,075 per person, based on double occupancy (eight to ten travelers)
$445 Single Supplement, regardless of group size.
The estimated cost for the optional "no-host" dinner at Rathsallagh House 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.
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 $ = 1.32 Euro // 1 Euro = 0.758 US $
- Additional Nights at Killashee House Hotel, if available: Will vary according to nights selected. Please inquire with us.
*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 Killashee House, Lindy Redding, Kay Minton, and Horse Racing Ireland
View the itineraries for our other 2011 trips:
For May-June (England), click here For September-October (France), click here
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