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9 Days, 8 Nights (including one en route)
SEPTEMBER 9-17, 2021
7 Nights in County Kildare, near The Curragh
4 Days of racing at The Curragh, Leopardstown, Punchestown, and Naas
Farm and training visits
Special sightseeing in Kildare and Wicklow
|Depart the U.S., if not joining the trip from Ireland or elsewhere.
|Arrive in Dublin. We'll meet you at the airport and deliver you to the Killashee Hotel, our lodging in County Kildare, about 25 miles west of the city and not far from The Curragh, headquarters of horse racing and training in Ireland. We can also provide transport to the Killashee from locations in Central Dublin for those that have come over early. These transfers will take approximately 45 minutes to an hour. The remainder of the day is free for adjustment and your own interests, however we always suggest remaining active if it's your first day over and we do have an excursion scheduled for later in the day.
THE KILLASHEE HOTEL: We return once more to Killashee, 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.killasheehotel.com for more information on the property. A full Irish breakfast is included each morning of our stay.
At about 2PM we'll organize transport over to the Irish National Stud, for those who would like to keep busy this afternoon. 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 a nice gift shop as well as a small museum and, nearby, a 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 set up nothing for the evening, and it might not be a bad idea to take it easy, have a simple dinner at the hotel, and turn in early. We have a lot planned for the next five days.
|Our program starts with a bang -- 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. Six are Group 1s and the mile-and-a-quarter 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 usually 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, Almanzor, Roaring Lion, and defending two-time winner Magical.
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.
Leopardstown is a left-turning course about a mile and three-quarters around. It's fairly level, however the uphill home stretch is stiffer than it appears. Finishes can sometimes redevelop in the final hundred yards.
We'll head over to the course about 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.
Nothing specific is planned for the evening. You may want to relax on your own after our busy first day. If there's a demand we'll organize a no-host group dinner in nearby Naas.
|Another outstanding card of racing awaits us today at The Curragh. Four 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 -- the five-panel Flying Five for the sprinters, and the 14-furlong Irish St Leger for 3-year-olds and up. The first two annually produce leading candidates for next year's Classics, the next is Ireland's only Group 1 for mature speedsters, and the latter is the highest prize of the year in Ireland for the stayers. The supporting races include the Group 2 Blandford, a ten-furlong test for fillies and mares.
The Curragh is Ireland's premier course -- most of the Group 1s and all of the national Classics are contested here --and it's also the major training center. (We'll be back for morning training later in the week.) The word "curragh" means "course" in Gaelic, and horses have been running and training 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 a mile on the straight with only a slight bending "elbow". 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.
Although the track itself was not altered, the stands and paddock areas underwent a major renovation during 2017-18. As is always the case with any revamping of a long-existing facility there were some teething issues, but they now appear to have been solved. We attended in 2019 and are pleased to report that, while differently expressed in some ways, the old Curragh magic is still very much in place.
We'll be headquartered in the panoramic restaurant, with excellent hospitality and race-viewing throughout the day.
|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.
There are betting parlours in all the towns 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.
This morning we'll begin with a visit to The Curragh and some interaction with one of Ireland's most famous trainers. We’ll go out on to The Curragh itself to see some work, hear some tales, and soak in the highly righteous Curragh vibe. If you’re a racehorse in training, there’s no better place to be. The Curragh is Ireland’s 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.
Following The Curragh, we'll motor into nearby Kildare town where we'll have a pub lunch and time for a fast walkaround.
This afternoon, a special racing treat. Punchestown is Ireland's major jump racing track, and among its many fixtures throughout the year it hosts the famous Irish National Hunt Festival in April, a five-day steeplechase and hurdle extravaganza that is rivaled in quality, attendance, and raucousness only by Cheltenham. It's also the home of Ireland's principal "Three-Day Event", a competition which includes dressage, show jumping, and cross-country. In recent years Punchestown has been awarded a limited number of flat racing cards, and we're fortunate enough to be able to attend one today. The card is liable to be of moderate quality, but we know you'll enjoy having the chance to experience this magnificent racing venue.
This evening we've made dinner plans at the understatedly elegant Rathsallagh House, a country lodge about a half-hour's drive away from Punchestown and our hotel. We can have a sit-and-drink and enjoy the surroundings both before and after the fine dining. The Rathsallagh dinner was often a part of our Irish trips in the past, but in recent years we've been bumped by wedding parties that booked the entire property for weekends. We're pleased to be able to re-include it on this year's program
Although it's optional and on a "no-host" basis, we think you'll be happy if you join in for the evening. You can be on your own tonight if you prefer.
|No racing today, but we’ll see some of Ireland’s splendid scenery via a crossing of the Wicklow Mountains.
Our route will take us through the Sally Gap to Glendalough, where you'll have time for lunch, a visit to one of Ireland’s most important religious sites, and a stroll along the area's beautiful lakes. The Christian monastery at Glendalough (the name means “Valley of the Two Lakes”) was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th Century and flourished for six centuries afterward before being pillaged by invading Normans in 1214. The existing remains - including the famous Gateway, a cathedral and several smaller churches, and distinctive tall round tower - provide an atmospheric hint of ancient Ireland.
After Glendalough we’ll move on to the Powerscourt Estate and its 47 acres of landscaped gardens. The flora here, on the grounds below the grand 18th Century Palladian-inspired “villa”, have been voted the third best on the planet by National Geographic -- only Versailles and Kew were considered superior. Special features include Italian, Japanese, and Walled gardens, the Dolphin Pond, and the Pet Cemetery. You’ll have plenty of time to explore.
Since at Powerscourt we're not far from the Irish Sea coast, we're researching places for an atmospheric waterfront dinner. Should our investigations prove unsatisfactory, we'll head back to the hotel and dine locally.
|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 big 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.
This morning we'll visit a private farm, one of the most prestigious in the world.
Then we’ll head back east to Naas Racecourse for an afternoon of racing which will include lunch. Naas is quite a lovely course, and although the fare today is likely to be modest, it's not unusual for runners from the big stables to show up, prticularly for the maiden races. We've been going racing at Naas on all our Irish trips since 2006, whenever the fixture list has cooperated. We've never had a bad time, and the course has long been one of our travelers' favorites.
Tonight will be our last evening together. We'll make a booking at a restaurant suitable for the occasion and everyone will be encouraged to join in on a no-host basis.
|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. Slan Abhaile.
This trip will close on July 2, 2021. 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 the Killashee Hotel and back on whichever days you choose to arrive and leave. Additional nights at the hotel can be booked, either before or after our scheduled stay. The Killashee 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. It’s a very busy time of the year.
ITINERARY & PRICES:
The itinerary includes:
- Seven(7) nights lodging at the Killashee Hotel, in County Kildare.
- Breakfast each morning as indicated.
- Four(4) escorted days of racing at Leopardstown, The Curragh, Punchestown, and Naas, including transportation to and from the racecourse, course admission, and race card. Reserved seating and lunch at Leopardstown, The Curragh, and Naas. Premier enclosure admission at Punchestown.
- Visit to the Irish National Stud, including transportation and admission.
- Morning training excursion to The Curragh.
- Farm visit in County Kildare.
- Sightseeing excursion through County Wicklow including Glendalough and Powerscourt Estate.
- Lunch on four(4) days: at Leopardstown (September 11), at The Curragh (September 12), in Kildare town (September 14), and at Naas Racecourse (September 16).
- 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 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 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 and the hotel staff 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:
$3,645 per person, based on double occupancy (twelve or more travelers).
$3,745 per person, based on double occupancy (ten to eleven travelers).
$3,845 per person, based on double occupancy (eight or nine travelers).
$450 single supplement, regardless of group size.
*Please note we have still not received final pricing for some elements of this trip, and the trip price is therefore subject to minor adjustment until we do.
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. Single travelers on this trip will be accommodated in slightly smaller (but still substantial) rooms than the double occupancy travelers to help keep the single supplement as low as possible.
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 United Kingdom. U.S. Dollar prices quoted herein are based on the following exchange rates:
1 US $ = 0.820 Euro // 1 Euro = 1.22 US $
- Additional Nights at the Killashee 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. Please note as of January 2021 travel to Ireland is subject to Covid-19 restrictions. We will be monitoring this and will update the website as conditions change.
Photos courtesy of The Killashee Hotel, Kay Minton, Horse Racing Ireland, The Curragh Racecourse,
Lindy Redding, Joe King, and the Powerscourt Estate.
View the Itineraries for our other 2021 trips:
May (Yorkshire), click here
October-November (Australia), click here
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