Cheltenham is one of the biggest horse racing events in the UK. Held every year in March, the festival takes place over four days at Cheltenham Racecourse in the UK. The event has been held since 1815 and features the best jump racing in Britain. It also offers a chance for Irish and UK racing to go head to head.
Ireland and the UK compete for the Prestbury Cup, with the winners decided by whichever country has fourteen or more winning jockeys and trainers. In recent years, Ireland has come away with the Prestbury Cup more often than not, showing just how dominant Ireland is when it comes to horse racing. Horse race betting is the most popular form of betting in Ireland, and although it’s popular in the UK too, Ireland clearly has the upper hand when it comes to winning.
In 2022, Ireland secured the Prestbury Cup once more. Although the prediction before the event was for Ireland to easily sweep victory for another year, it came down to the final race day, with Ireland just one point ahead on Friday. However, by the end of the day, Ireland were clear winners, claiming all seven races on the final day.
While none of the winners at this year’s Cheltenham festival came from Wexford, the county has historically been a breeding ground of top jockeys, trainers, and horses. Wexford Racecourse is one of the biggest in the country and hosts National Hunt racing. This makes it an ideal training ground for events such as Cheltenham and has helped Ireland become a major force in horse racing.
Wexford’s Horse Racing History
Horse racing in Wexford was first recorded in the 1870s, but it wasn’t until 1951 that the first official racecourse in the area opened up. The racecourse at Bettyville offered space for thousands of spectators, and the official figures on the first day were around 17,000. Over the years, the track was changed a lot, with the bend straightened and the surface levelled and drained to make racing safer.
The changes to the racecourse allowed Wexford to attract some of the best trainers from around the country, which in turn led to more spectators. New stands were opened in the 90s, along with facilities such as tote betting and bars.
In 2015, the direction of the track was changed from right-handed to left-handed, while a year later, the course discontinued all flat racing. Over the years, some top trainers and jockeys have come from Wexford, including the likes of Tom O’Brien, Daryl Jacob, and Jim Bolger.
The Future of Wexford Racing
Wexford has always been a hotbed for talented jockeys and trainers, with the racecourse providing an excellent place to gain National Hunt racing experience. Over the years, lots of talented jockeys and trainers have come from the county, and the stars of the future could be racing in Wexford right now.
Horse and Pony racing is also big in Wexford, giving aspiring jockeys a chance to experience racing against their peers from a young age. This form of horse racing is for those under the age of sixteen before they can race professionally. It offers a great way to build experience and learn more about the sport while giving them a chance to potentially go on to turn professional later on.
With yet another Prestbury Cup for Ireland at 2022 Cheltenham, Ireland’s dominance in horse racing shows no signs of slowing. Wexford has played a major role in providing talent for Ireland over the years, with Wexford racecourse proving ground for jockeys and horses. The county may not be the biggest in Ireland, but its influence on the world of horse racing is impossible to deny.
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