150 years of the Irish Grand National

Published: 08 Apr 2020

150 years ago, the first Irish Grand National steeplechase took place at Fairyhouse Racecourse, Co. Meath. Over the past century and a half this famous race in the Boyne Valley has become the premiere event on the Irish horse racing calendar. For the first Grand National the prize fund was 167 gold sovereigns and the winner was a horse named after the late prime minister Sir Robert Peel.

Since 1870 the Irish Grand National has always been a popular day out for those on their Easter holidays, in particular with crowds coming from Dublin. Nowadays the festival attracts over 30,000 spectators over the course of the long weekend, with a main prize fund of €500,000.

Arkle, one of the most famous racehorses in the world and winner of the 1964 Grand National, was born in Co. Meath at Ballymacoll Stud, near Dunboyne.

Unfortunately, the 2020 race has had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 but on Saturday 11th March at 7.15pm, TG4 are running a fantastic documentary ‘Irish Grand National - Chasing a Dream’. You can watch the trailer below.

Fairyhouse is offering a fun activity for the kids too, a colouring compettion to celebtrate 150 years of the Grand National. Details can be found on their Facebook and Twitter.

A virtual Grand National was also recently held, raising over €200,000 for Irish charities.

As the home of the Irish Grand National and a mainstay in Irish society and history, Fairyhouse Racecourse have been welcoming people through their doors since 1848. The Easter Racing Festival will return in 2021, running from Saturday 3rd April to Monday 5th April. Will you be there to cheer the horses and riders in person? Start planning now for your next visit to Fairyhouse and the Boyne Valley.