Ballinrobe Race Course at Rathcarreen

Rathcarreen where Ballinrobe Race Course is located
The thrill of the sport
Photo: Mayo News supplement celebrating 90th birthday of Ballinrobe Course
Mayo News supplement 2011
mayo News
Mr. John F. Staunton, Chairman Ballinrobe Race Committee.
Ballinrobe Races will celebrate it's 100th anniversary at it's present location in 2021

It was in 1921 that Ballinrobe held its first race meeting at Rathcarreen. While the race course layout remains largely as it was then; the facilities for race goers are a world apart.

Major developments have taken place since 1992 following damage to the stand in a storm.  Ballinrobe Races are unique as it is a racecourse of the people. All of Mayo comes here with the atmosphere being infectious and the setting superb.

Official racing regulations

Official racing structures changed over the years with the sport initially regulated by the Irish Racing Board, then the Irish Horseracing Authority, and now Horse Racing Ireland.

Ballinrobe’s limited resources and funding did not stand in the way of applications for funding however. The enthusiasm of Ballinrobe Race Committee, under the Chairmanship of Mr. John F. Staunton, and their clearly defined strategic plan for grants was hard to resist, and support was forthcoming for necessary developments at the course.

Even after being threatened with closure the Committee members’ enthusiasm impressed the local community who matched grants provided by the Racing Board, and contributions flowed in.

Start of the development

The fist stage of the development commenced c.1992. A new boundary wall, turnstiles, sanitary facilities and the centrepiece; a new 1,800 person grandstand were designed by Tobin Engineering, Galway.

New tote building

Such was the response to the new developments at the course, that Tote Ireland took little convincing to climb on board and replace the original makeshift building with a spanking new Tote building.

However, the Committee were not going to leave the private bookmakers to gaze jealously at the new Tote facilities; the entire enclosure was upgraded with up to the minute support infrastructure.

Further new facilities

Behind the scenes, the Committee were not ignoring the core purpose of racing. The racetrack was being improved, between banking at bends, a new ambulance track and general improvements.  Stable facilities and horse washing bays were being gradually upgraded every season, with new support infrastructure for equipment, machinery, new access and parking areas for horse transport, veterinary and turf club services and parade ring improvements and a little while later a new bookies shop in the South East corner of the enclosure.

New steward and jockey facilities

The long awaited new Steward and Jockey facilities were next in the grand plan.   Corporate entertainment was now in demand resulting in a new restaurant called after George’s Moores famous race-horse Coranna.

Weather and new pavilion

Ever since the grandstand was built, in the early 1990s the space between the rear of the stand and the Tote, a hinge point of the enclosure, which was also surrounded by the Parade Ring, the Stewards’ and Jockeys’ area, the Bookies’ Ring, and the entrance, it was felt by the very progressive and active Committee that an all weather facility was required.

The most recent developments were a new Pavilion and a restaurant for the race goer.   Every effort has been made to make Ballinrobe Race Course a fitting facility for all the loyal ‘punters’ and customers that have support it down through the years.

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