17 March 2015
In a recent Thoroughbred Racing Commentary article (14.3.15) Donn McClean looks back at Ireland’s only all weather track to find it has more than proved its worth since the first race was run on Dundalk’s new Polytrack less than eight years ago.
Quality horses and top trainers
The worry that the racing there would be short on quality, finding evidence that this has not been the case with:
- Horses like Rich Tapestry,who won at Dundalk in 2010 on only his second appearance, before going on to land the G1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship in California last October.
- Top trainers regularly racing good horses at Dundalk. The five leading trainers at Dundalk during the last five reads like a who’s who of the best in Ireland: Aidan O’Brien, Jim Bolger, Ger Lyons, Michael Halford, Eddie Lynam.
“We have had 750 races since we opened here eight years ago,” said Dundalk Racecourse supremo Jim Martin. “We have had 235 individual trainers with winners. That’s a lot of trainers who have had winners here.”
The birth of Dundalk’s Polytrack
The TRC article traces the history of how the Dundalk Polytrack came to be:
- The old turf track at Dundalk staged its last fixture in 2001 and no fixtures were sought in 2002.
- Greyhound racing at Dundalk was saved in 2003. Horse racing fans feared that horseracing might not follow, although an 18-metre gap had been left between Dundalk’s Greyhound track and the grandstand which bore testimony to the possibility of a horse racing track in the future.
- By 2003, Jim Martin had been to see the all weather track at Birmingham Racecourse, Alabama to see how horse racing and Greyhound racing then co-existed.
- Horse Racing Ireland’s strategic plan in 2003 cited the establishment of an all-weather track in Ireland as one of its primary objectives, and Martin Collins identified this as a major opportunity for Dundalk.
- In August 2007, Ireland’s first horse race on an all weather surface was run at Dundalk, following the installation of Martin Collins Enterprises’ Polytrack
Dundalk’s Winter horse racing – greyhound combined series is a hit
Dundalk’s Winter series has run every Friday night for the past four years with the fixtures being allocated by Horse Racing Ireland and prize money put up by Dundalk through media rights and entry fees. The last horserace is at 9:15pm and the first Greyhound race is at 9:30 pm. It’s a late finish for staff, but it means that people can go for a good fun night out, and it works.
“It is a great facility,” comments Johnny Levins, leading trainer at Dundalk so far in 2015, with four winners. “Especially during the winter. It means that you can keep these flat horses going. I have 22 horses in training now. If we didn’t have Dundalk, I would just be concentrating on getting the yearlings going. I’d have to let staff go. With Dundalk, it means that we can keep going, staff are happy, owners have runners. Everything just runs more smoothly.”
“A horse rarely has a hard race at Dundalk,” Levins said. “Even if they have had to battle. It rides quick, but it is a kind surface, it provides cushion. I could run a horse there every Friday night.”
Martin Collins – leaders in horse racing surfaces worldwide
Martin Collins has been innovating in horse racing surfaces and other equestrian surfaces for 35 years and was granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment by HM The Queen in 2007.
There are more Polytrack racecourses around the world than all its commercial all weather surface rivals put together. The 22nd Polytrack racecourse world-wide is set to open this Spring in Pakenham, Australia.
Click here to find out more about the full range of Martin Collins equestrian racing surfaces or contact the Martin Collins team for further advice and information.
To read the full Thoroughbred Racing Commentary article: