The Nursery of Champions
Naas Racecourse is known as ‘The Nursery of Champions’, the track has been where some of Europe’s most talented horses have honed their skills, going on to take gold and glory at home and abroad. The numbers speak for themselves with champions being made on both the Flat and National Hunt at Naas. To date, the winners of 30 Aintree Grand Nationals, 27 Cheltenham Gold Cups and eight King George VI Chase have either started their careers in Naas or raced on the track. In the past four years alone, horses have gone from Naas to the Cheltenham Festival and won the Gold Cup, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Triumph Hurdle and the Queen Mother Champion Chase twice.
The Flat yields similarly excellent results. Little Big Bear, rated the best European two-year-old in 2022, won his maiden at Naas. So did Auguste Rodin, winner of the 2023 Epsom Derby, 2023 Irish Derby and the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf. Since 2020, the Epsom Oaks, the English 2,000 Guineas, the English 1,000 Guineas, the Melbourne Cup and four Breeders’ Cups have also been won by horses that have pounded around the track at Naas.
To celebrate Naas Racecourse’s 100th anniversary in 2024, a new book, ‘The Centenary of Naas Racecourse’, has been written by renowned historian and author, Turtle Bunbury. The book traces the evolution of the track from a humble field on the outskirts of a bustling Irish market town to its present-day status as one of Europe’s best-loved boutique racecourses.
The book goes through the history of Naas Racecourse over the last century with significant information and photographs of each decade included throughout. This fascinating publication also tells the story of the farmers and sportsmen who founded the racecourse, and touches on some of the politicians, film stars and royals who have rubbed shoulders on the track over the last 100 years.
There has always been a rich history of racing in Kildare and the county is known as the Thoroughbred County for good reason. There are countless stable yards and training operations around Naas, which has been at the epicentre of the equestrian world for at least 260 years. It was not until the 20th century that a formal racecourse was created. In 1922, at the height of the Civil War, a group of eight like-minded farmers and gentlemen joined forces to form the ‘Naas Race Company’. Supported by subscriptions from across the locality, the new company bought just over 100 acres of farmland on the east side of the town and set about creating a proper racecourse with the very first meeting taking place on the 19th of June 1924.
We will be marking our Centenary with celebrations throughout the year. Check back here for updates on what is happening.