Mike Quigley

Irish horse racing, betting and other stuff

   Home      Thurles.Naas March 2019

Thurles and Naas

One season ends, another begins

It was good to be back in Dublin again after an (unusual) absence of more than six months. The plan was to stay in the capital and travel by train to the tracks each day. Sounds easy enough but, as you will discover, the strategy wasn’t without its problemsFirst on Friday night it was time for a visit to one of our favourite restaurants: Bang in Merrion Row. Excellent but pricey, see my review on tripadvisor (Mike Punter). Stand-out dish the halibut.


23 March 2019: admission charges 15 euro (8-euro seniors/students) < 18s free

It’s nearly 100 miles from Dublin but a regular direct train service from Heuston will get you there in about 80 minutes. Met by a shuttle bus that took us the five minutes’ drive to the track. This was their final meeting of the (NH) season and there seemed to be a reasonable crowd. 

VIP seating in high demand at Thurles

The facilities are best described as basic, however what can’t be criticised is the superb viewing from either of the two grandstands.

Panoramic views from the grandstands at Thurles

Regular readers will know that the flat is my preferred betting medium so this was going to be a bit of a guess-up. I thought I’d give the (four-leg) tote jackpot a go. My perm was 5x4x2x1 (40-euro). The first leg was a tricky 18-runner handicap however one of my five was the gambled-on Napoleon Blue (w 8/1). I included all four runners in the next in the hope of a shock result - and got it when 5/1 outsider of the quartet obliged. For the third leg I’d simply chosen the two morning market leaders. Imagine my surprise when they finished 1-2, with the winner’s SP 8/1!

Sadly, my selection in the last leg was a NR so the bet defaulted to the unnamed fav. The projected jackpot dividend on the fav was 1,000+ euro. This is when I had a brain freeze and backed the 2nd and 3rd favs instead of laying the fav on Betfair. The 7/4 fav finished 2nd to the 14/1 winner: jackpot not won (by anyone!).   

Security tight at the tote!

Compensation for a losing day was supper at the outstanding Mitchel House restaurant – Thurles’ best restaurant (according to tripadvisor, see my review there). Deconstructed banoffee pie was the stand-out dish. Unfortunately, our return train to Dublin was delayed for an hour because of track problems. Annoyingly, updates on the problems were few and far between so the option of going to wait in the pub was not available to us. Eventually the train arrived (on the southern platform) and we made our way back to the city. Fortunately we shared a table with a very friendly family who were returning from a weekend in Cork.  


24 March 2019: admission charges 15 euro (9-euro seniors/students) < 18s free

We had transport issues getting to Naas too. Train to Sallins was OK but then there was no shuttle bus to the track. Stranded, no taxis. Despite half-a-dozen calls to the track the shuttle bus didn’t arrive. After an hour, a local chap phoned a taxi company and we got there just in time for the 2nd race. Racecourse office was most apologetic, apparently the bus met punters travelling north at the other exit (rather than those travelling south from Dublin). Compensated with “Golden” ticket (free racecard, food and drink vouchers).

The new circular grandstand, part of Naas' impressive upgraded facilities.

First day of the flat season. Free tickets courtesy of Tote Ireland, the main sponsor. Pleased with softish ground plus big fields for the two handicap races that interested me: 6f (16R) and 8f (20R). In the last three seasons, when 14+runners and soft, the majority of 6f handicaps had seen middle drawn horses at significant disadvantage with winners drawn either high or low. I played the exacta combo top3 on both sides. Draw result: 1,3,2,5. Exacta paid 130.70. Looked like a faster strip of ground on the far side, a further boost to my 8f strategy. 

Using same runner/going criteria as above, four of six 8f handicaps had been won by traps 1,2 or 3. So my exacta play was a combo top4 of the 20. Draw result: 3,4,6,5. Exacta paid 340.60. 

One of my biggest ever winning days on-track. Plus, free entry and racecard, free food and free drink!

Return train on time and back to Dublin for celebratory drinks at the splendid Shelbourne Hotel (Guinness a snip at seven euro a pint).

March 2019

Do high or low have it?