Downpatrick Racecourse is a National Hunt racecourse situated in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is steeped in 200 years of racing history and a further 100 years on the older track a few miles down the road. Downpatrick was previously a dual-purpose track but put an end to flat racing in 2009. Although Downpatrick is situated in Northern Ireland, it falls under the aegis of Horse Racing Ireland.
Downpatrick has 9 meetings annually and the feature race of the season is the Randox Ulster National EBF Handicap Chase, which is usually held around the end of March. In 2009, Downpatrick announced an increase of 40k to the prize pool of their feature race. The days racing usually attracts the top trainers in Ireland with additional races such as the WKD (€18k) Hurdle and the Connollys RED MILLS Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle (€20k).
Downpatrick Course Characteristics
Downpatrick is considered a real “course specialist” track. It is a narrow, right handed track with a number of varying undulations and turns. The circumference of the track is roughly 11f. There are 6 fences to a circuit on the chase course. There is a gradual incline after the second fence (after the winning post), which is the starting point of the Ulster National, until a steep incline before the third fence. There is then a continuous downhill run past the following fence and around into a straight where two fences are placed in quick succession. The fences are considered quite easy to handle but proven form can go a long way here. The hurdle course is positioned inside the chase course but is similar in nature.
For course information and going reports on the day, Downpatrick Racecourse provide updates on their Twitter account
Downpatrick Pace Bias
The tight nature of the course would suggest the course would suit a prominent racer. They tend to get racing coming down the hill before 2 out and you would want to be well positioned at this point of the race. There is roughy 2f from the last to winning post which is a gradual incline. This can prove a test of stamina so anything placed too far behind at this stage has a lot to do. It is interesting to note that one front runner has won the Ulster National since 2003 (Well Run for Noel Meade in 2008). Any “held up” winner of the race has been relatively close up, if not in front by 2 out.
Front runners have been continuously profitable to follow on the hurdle course and have earned a win P&L of 176.75 in 8+ runner handicaps. The majority of the winners have come from a front running/prominent position and front runners have the best strike rate (18.36%). But 42 winners (23.46% of winners) have also come from a held up position. The same theory would apply as above, a held up runner would want to be well positioned before 2 out. So although it is not a completely dominant bias, front/prominent runner would be favoured over held up runners, especially entering the last 3-4 furlongs of a race. There can often be early competition for the lead which can inject pace into a race. In cases like this, you might see a race fall apart for a held up runner.
The numbers from the NHF races would also back up the front/prominent running bias. Front runners have again been profitable to follow since 2009, with a win P&L of 11.44. Roughly 25% on the winners have been front runners and if grouped in pairs, front/prominent runners have won 68% of the races.
Downpatrick Top Trainers
Of the trainers with 50+ runners (Since 2009), Willie Mullins is naturally on top with a 26.57% win rate, followed by Noel Meade at 25.81%. Tyrone native, Andy Oliver, has a 25% strike rate (7 from 28 runners) at the course and has been profitable to follow with a win P&L of 44.50. He has the best strike rate in handicaps with 4 winners from 11 runners (36.36%). Mark McNiff has been the most profitable to follow in handicaps with a strike rate of 18.81% and win P&L of 41.08.
Downpatrick Top Jockeys
Of the jockeys with 25+ runners (since 2009), retired jockeys Katie Walsh and Nina Carberry had win rates of 34.48% and 33.33% respectively. Of the current jockeys, Davy Russell has had the second most rides at the course with 165. He has a 23.64% win rate and has also been profitable to follow (win P&L of 14.06). Luke Dempsey has been profitable to follow in handicaps with a win P&L of 57.25, whereas MP Butler has the best strike rate in handicaps since 2009 (21.21%).
*Figures correct as of 07/09/2020
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