Down Royal Racecourse

Gravelhill Rd, Lisburn, BT27 5RW - Map & Directions
02892 621 256
Down Royal
Down Royal (Brian Shaw /

Downpatrick was the only racecourse in Ulster for a number of years before the introduction of Down Royal in the early 18th century. Located near Lisburn in Northern Ireland, it has recently surpassed Downpatrick as the most popular and successful course in Northern Ireland. The wealthy owners have invested heavily into improvements over the last few years, including a brand new grandstand, as well as refurbished corporate and restaurant facilities, which keep the course modernised in order to keep up with English counterparts. The main events at Down Royal include a three-day summer festival and a two-day winter festival. Down Royal racecourse offers an average of 12 days of racing each year.

Down Royal racecourse is located just 4km from the town of Lisburn. There is free parking at the track and customers are encouraged to take the A1 to the Hillsborough roundabout and follow the signs to the course. For customers intending to travel by train, the closest railways station is Lisburn, located in the town centre. The station is one of the stops on the Belfast to Dublin Express and there is a taxi rank available for customers directly outside the station.

Ticket Prices

Entry tickets to race days at Down Royal are priced at just £10. Customers under the age of 18 are allowed access to the course free of charge when accompanied by a full paying adult, although some proof of eligibility may be required.

The Course

The track at Down Royal
The track at Down Royal (HENRY CLARK /

Down Royal hosts both flat and National Hunt races, with the two courses running alongside one another. The course is square shaped and is run right-handed over a course measuring 1m7f all the way round.

Like the other course in Northern Ireland, Downpatrick, the track is not very even, with undulations throughout, including on the downhill run-in to the home turn, which often makes for exciting grandstand finishes to races. The steeplechase course consists of 10 fences, whilst there are eight flights throughout the hurdles course.

Inside Draw Favoured in Sprints

Included on Down Royal’s course is a small off-shoot from the final bend that sticks out by around one furlong, allowing for ‘straight’ five furlong sprints to be run. This chute lets sprinters avoid the bulk of the final bend but those involved still have a fair amount of turning to do. In reality, the sprint track is far from straight and those drawn close to the rail enjoy a decent advantage over those who start further out wide.

It’s by the rail which also seems to be the ideal starting point, providing you can get out of the stall quickly, during seven furlong events. The final bend is a lengthy one and those stuck outside end up having to cover a lot more ground. Once things finally begin to straighten up, the finish post is well within sight, leaving horses further back with very little time to make up ground. In 1m 2f and 1m 4f races, there is no bias present.

Exciting Finishes a Common Sight

The layout of the fences at Down Royal often helps to deliver some fascinating twists and turns. Although they aren’t overly challenging, there are four located in the final four furlongs. Taking the last of them well is of the upmost importance as the run-in is a small one, less than furlong in length.

Despite the slight bias in shorter races, generally speaking, Down Royal is a fair course. It is a track in which horses can win from any realistic position, dwelling or prominent, inside or outside. It's often out wide where the better ground can be found but it’s not always the case that horses end up saving time by drifting across the track.

Major Meetings at Down Royal

JN Wine Sponsors, sponsors of the Champions Chase 

The most valuable flat race run at Down Royal is the Ulster Derby, which holds a winning purse of £62,500 and was established in 1936. The Derby is run over 1m3f each June and no horse has ever won the race more than once. The most successful jockey in the race is Tommy Murphy, who managed to win the race on four separate occasions between 1974 and 1978. The 2014 winner was Kevin Manning on Wexford Town, who won the race in a time that was almost 30 seconds faster than the previous winner.

The most valuable National Hunt race at Down Royal is the Champion Chase, which has a winning purse of over £140,000. The Chase was established in 1999 and is run over a distance of three miles each year at the Northern Ireland Festival of Racing each November. Ruby Walsh is the most successful jockey, winning the race three times between 2007 and 2010, a feat that included a double success on equine legend Kauto Star. The most recent winner was Paul Carberry on Road To Riches.

Dining and Hospitality

Hospitality packages at Down Royal start form just £49.50 per person with a wide variety of options available. They offer luxury suites with large plasma televisions and even provide at-seat betting meaning you don’t even need to leave your table!

They can cater for groups large and small and one package including a three course meal, coffee and a balcony overlooking the parade ring is £108 including VAT, although prices vary according to the race meeting and the exact requirements of your group.


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