Clonmel (County Tipperary)
Flat, Hurdles, Fences
Approx no. of meetings
Rail from Dublin(2 hours 37 minutes,1 change)
Bus from Cork (1 hour 40 minutes)
Town to Racecourse (1.2 miles)
Taxis. Scarce, pre-book if possible.
One main bar and sit down restaurant at the top of the main stand. Two other smaller, older stands. Café selling pies and hot food. Separate tote and in all bars.
Large chain hotels offering packages at edge of town. Lovely boutique B&Bs and smaller hotels in town. Stayed at Raheen house, Edwardian, very nice.
Single class purchased on line before event, student and concessions on the day. Free car parks.
(2) Return before challenge complete
October 28st – Irish Tracks Visited (2)
There is a romance to racing that I would love to concentrate on for today’s blog and also to reflect on what I thought was a fabulous town with wonderful people. As a child I was often found listening to the shipping forecast in the wee small hours. The routine of the names read out in a never changing order spoke of faraway places that were foreign and unknown. Cromarty, Faroe, Lundy, Fastnet, these were my Narnia, Tatooine or Hogwarts. Since starting to take racing a lot more seriously over the last couple of years, the Irish tracks have held a similar appeal. Yes, we all know of Cork or Dublin (although you never see that mentioned as there is no racetrack there), but what about Gowran Park, Dundalk or indeed Clonmel. It was partly the romance of these far flung tracks that made us want to spend ten days in Ireland in the first place.
So Madam Hoof as already mentioned, is still wearing the sling for the broken shoulder. It’s a shame that this means, not only is she in pain, but Sir Hoof is saddled (Sorry) with doing all the driving and this is playing merry hell with my drinking. But for the two days we are at courses in Ireland we parked up and took Shank’s pony.
From the lovely Edwardian Raheen house we walked into town for a look at the churches and such. Nice little place and when we had seen our fill we got the feeling it was time to get a cab to the stadium. Next time, might be worth pre-booking. The driver was Slavic and surly, and also I am not sure completely sober, (but then again who is to judge, I probably wasn’t either). We arrive at the stadium, slightly jostled but otherwise in good spirits.
Clonmel is a small track with a big heart. Obviously we did our research in the racing papers before arriving. We had placepots to put on here and at other tracks. However, on the very cute chalk board next to the steward's office were the declared non –runners, all with a cough. Now obviously we are not vets but something about this tickled Madam Hoof and she spent the entire day making a noise like an upper class horse clearing its throat (silly filly).
Paramount to a day out with the venerable MF, we needed to work out the booze situation. The bar staff were incredibly friendly (even with my fairly blue humour) and we soon settled on medicinal Guinness for me and Bacardi for her (But with proper Coke in bottles, don’t start). The restaurant had a fabulous view of the track and a set three course meal can be ordered at a reasonable cost allowing you to book a seat for the day.
I mention the course so I should say something about it. The races at Clonmel were just how we like them, 2 miles plus, on proper grass and horses thundering close by. The track itself is set on an inclined plane for want of a better expression, which affords a pretty good view of the whole track from the stands of the winning post. Top this off with a majestic sweep of hills in the background and our familiar sunshine, you are left with a glorious site (you can even park your helicopter here, but it does rather freak the horses, so don’t do it when the race is on).The parade ring is admittedly not track side but the gap between two of the stands avoids any awkwardness between races.
The only downside to the day was that we had tried to book tickets for the Greyhounds that night but found they had moved the meeting to another day. This in itself was not the best part. I tried to book dinner there and got a fabulous email back saying they were not open but would I like to try the following places. As I said, nice people.
This continued that evening with us walking back into town (didn’t fancy the taxi again) and returning to the bar we had been in the night before (Chawke’s) where the welcome was warm, the beer good, horses on the TV and a betting shop across the road. We got chatting to locals, who liked us even though we were English. We were given the name of the bar from our lunchtime barman in Cashel, when we asked for any horse tips for the following day and a good place to drink. Now I know why I love the Irish.
Will we return, is kind of the point of this article and the journey’s we are making? The answer is a resounding yes. This is a delightful local track, with good facilities and a larger than life attitude. I never saw a weighing room, I am sure there is one, but in my mind I hear them saying, “Ah, you be about right, get on wit ya”.
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