You get in the mood with a glass of champagne, admire the horses in the parade ring, share banter, have a flutter, find your spot in the crowd, then – sheer, unbridled excitement.
The vast open grassy plain of The Curragh in County Kildare is at the very centre of Ireland’s thoroughbred horse industry and the racecourse, in addition to regular race days, hosts all five Irish flat-racing Classics: including the oldest, the Irish Derby, originating in 1866.
Today’s three-day iconic derby festival in June is one of the country’s biggest social and sporting occasions, a whirl of music, dancing, fashion and racing that attracts some of the world’s top horses and jockeys. It’s glamorous (with prizes for best-dressed ladies on Ladies Day), and warm and friendly, the Irish way.
Even on non-racing days as you pass by in the early morning you’ll likely spot long lines of thoroughbreds training over the miles of flat, rich plains: the very same horses that win prestigious races around the globe.