Celebrating the 150th Irish Grand National
A look forward to the celebrations for the 150th Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse by way of some of the star winners and key events
Fairyhouse Racecourse will host the 150th running of the Irish Grand National on Easter Monday, 18 April. The flagship race of the three-day Easter Festival has been sponsored by BoyleSports, Ireland’s largest independent bookmaker, since 2014.
The race has become a truly iconic event and over the years the roll of honour includes many legendary racehorses such as the 1964 winner Arkle (pictured), trained by Tom Dreaper, Brown Lad, a three-time winner for trainer Jim Dreaper, the legendary British-trained steeplechaser Dessert Orchid, Bobbyjo, trained by Tommy Carberry and ridden by his son Paul, Commanche Court, which was ridden for trainer Ted Walsh by his son Ruby and Organisedconfusion, trained by Arthur Moore and ridden by his niece, Nina Carberry, one of the greatest amateur riders Ireland has ever produced.
First run in 1870, the Irish Grand National sits proudly at the heart of the Irish sporting calendar. Ireland’s most famous steeplechase has produced many brilliant winners and generated a treasure trove of racing memories and stories.
It is a race that affords horses, jockeys, trainers and owners the opportunity to etch their names into racing folklore, with every winner and their connections joining a most exclusive group.
The BoyleSports Irish Grand National is traditionally held every year on Easter Monday at the County Meath racecourse. However, there have only been three renewals not held on that day. In 1872, due to a waterlogged track, the race was postponed to the following Saturday.
In 1988, the race was held on Saturday, April 16 as a one-off trial, while in 2001, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in late February meant that the Irish Government suspended racing for a period of seven weeks which resulted in the race being held on Sunday 6 May.
There was no Irish Grand National in 1919 as the War of Independence raged and the race was cancelled for only the second time in its history in 1941 due to foot and mouth disease. In 2020, the race was cancelled for only the third time as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.
As part of the 150 celebrations, this year’s three-day Easter Festival, running from Easter Saturday to Bank Holiday Easter Monday, Fairyhouse will host several events over the weekend to commemorate the history and heritage of the famous race.
Irish Grand National memorabilia and photos will be displayed throughout the racecourse enclosures, there will be a parade of previous BoyleSports Irish Grand National equine champions, interviews and meet and greet opportunities with previous winning jockeys and trainers and a special commemorative race card to mark the 150th running of the race.
Broadcast on RTÉ, ITV and on Racing TV, the €500,000 BoyleSports Irish Grand National, the most valuable jumps race in Ireland, will go to post at 5pm on Easter Monday.
Celebrations at Fairyhouse begin on Easter Saturday, April 16 with seven jump races on the card and live music and entertainment in the Festival Marquee during and after racing.
Family fun day on Easter Sunday promises a thrilling combination of top-class jump racing, featuring the Grade 1 Gold Cup, and a host of free entertainment and activities for children of all ages, with face painters, balloon modelling and bubble fun for everyone.
Roll-up with the family for the children’s theatre shows with interactive pantomime puppets and a magic ventriloquism show, with a grand finale starring the Easter bunny.
Complimenting the racing action on Easter Monday, the Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa Most Stylish Lady takes centre stage with 2011 Irish Grand National winning jockey and Dancing with the Stars front-runner Nina Carberry (pictured with professional dance partner Pasquale La Rocca) joining style sponsor Gráinne Ross, Managing Director of Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa, to choose the most stylish lady on the day.
To celebrate the 150th running of the Irish Grand National, the theme of this year’s most stylish lady is “vintage sparkle”.
The winner will walk away with a luxurious trip to Champagne, France. This weekend getaway includes an overnight in Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa, along with flights, transfers and three nights in a luxury hotel in Champagne, as well as being treated to a tour and tasting in the cellars of a premium Champagne house.
The winner will also receive €500 spending money to round off a wonderful weekend. The two runners-up will receive a spa day for two people at the tranquil Seoid Spa at Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa.