Our November blog touched on some of the more popular leisure activities in Meath, including:

  • Salmon and sea trout fishing along the River Boyne;
  • Touring the heritage sites of Ireland’s Ancient East;
  • Unwinding during a few rounds of golf;
  • Or spending a day at the races at one of the more popular racecourses in the county.  

If you do choose to visit the Navan, Fairyhouse or Bellewstown Racecourses during your visit to Co. Meath, what can you expect and how can you prepare for the day?

Let’s talk dress code

Good fashion and horse racing undeniably go hand in hand. Big horse racing events covered on television always show ladies stylishly milling around in dresses, heels and sun hats, while the gents have on waistcoats, collared shirts, chinos and name brand sunglasses.

 horse-racing hospitality

But don’t let any of this put you off – there’s no actual dress code for watching horse racing in Meath. We do, however, recommend you dress smart-casual and pack in a hat and a pair of sunglasses, plus something warm to wear, if necessary, to protect yourself from the elements.

Comfortable, flat shoes are also ideal (because of all the standing or walking around you’ll be doing), while another must-have item is a pair of binoculars, which you can hire at the venue.

Unpacking the different race types

Navan, Fairyhouse and Bellewstown host regular National Hunt (Jump) and Flat race meetings throughout the year. A Jump race includes hurdles and fences for horses and jockeys to negotiate as they race, but flat races are run without any form of obstacles on the track. While both forms of horse racing are exhilarating to watch, betting on a flat race is often easier, as there are fewer variables to consider.

From the horses mouth...

Horse racing in Meath

It’s a good idea to learn some of the terminology the race caller will use when sports casting throughout the day. Horse Racing Ireland has a comprehensive glossary of racing terms on their website, but here are some of the basics terms you’ll need to know if placing bets: 

  • Banker (slang): this is the horse expected to win the race.
  • Odds On: The correct term for the race horse that’s the favourite to win the race. You’ll know which one this is because it will have an ‘F’ next to its name on the display board. If more than one horse is thought to be a favourite, this will be indicated using ‘JF’ – or joint-favourite.
  •  Stake: the amount of money you’ve risked placing as a bet on a horse.
  • Bookmaker (aka ‘bookie’): a betting operator, who normally sets up with a betting display board in the betting ring and offers different odds (or prices) for betting on a particular horse.
  • Tote: the tote offers you a pooled bet on a race, which winning tickets get to share.
  • Short Odds: the horse has a high chance of winning the race but you won’t win much from placing a bet on them.
  • Long Odds: the horse has a relatively low chance of winning the race, but if you bet on them and they do, you’ll stand a chance of having your stake multiplied a lot. i.e. If a horse has a 20/1 chance of winning and it does, you can expect winnings of 20 times what you put down.

Getting to betting

Race betting is one of the main highlights of watching horse racing in Meath. On arrival at the race venue, you can buy a race card, which lists all the races for that meeting, as well as the horses and jockeys tacking part in each race.

You’ll find out from the race card which colours each jockey and rider will be wearing during a race, the stall they’ll be racing from and how well each horse has performed in previous races. This information is meant to help you with placing your bets.

How to place a bet? 

  • Decide which horse(s) you want to bet on during a race – remember its name and number.
  • Decide whether you’ll just be backing the horse to win, to be placed (first, second or third etc.), or both, and the amount you want to bet.
  • Head towards a racecourse bookmaker or the Tote to place your bet. If you use a bookmaker, be sure to shop around for the best odds you can get.
  • Don’t lose your ticket – you’ll need it to collect your takings if your horse wins the race!

Relax and unwind

All racecourses have hospitality areas where you can find something to eat and drink, and many of them offer package deals, which include your entrance fee, race card and a meal voucher at a pub or restaurant at the venue.

Race and Stay Packages

newgrange hotel ccommodation

After a long day at the races, you’ll probably want to head off to your luxury hotel to freshen up for your evening plans. Newgrange Hotel offers its own Race and Stay Packages, which you can find out more about by contacting us at: info@newgrangehotel.ie or +353469074100.