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Earliest meeting: Friday 29th August 1902
Final meeting: Saturday 13th October 1990
Located in the townlands of Ashtown and Castlerock, Phoenix Park seemed to be the ideal place to site a racecourse on the northern edge of the City of Dublin. Although in the 1830s Garrison Races were staged on the track, and in the 1840s Military meetings were also held, a meeting did take place on Tuesday 21st August 1849 when the Phoenix Park Stakes over 1 ½ miles was won by Mr Williamson’s Postillion, defeating the appropriately named Captain Gambler’s Cracow. However, it proved challenging to establish a closed racecourse at the Park after 1870. There was a movement as early as June 1871, led by Sir John Arnott, to establish a meeting at the Park, but it was not until 1902 that racing got underway at the modern racecourse. It was due to the expertise and business acumen of J H H Peard that the track finally held its inaugural meeting on Friday 29th August 1902. The track remained under the control of the Peard family when first son Harry took over in 1939, and then from 1950 to 1969 his wife Fanny ran the track. Racing continued for 12 years after she retired, but closed at the end of the 1981 season. It bore all the hallmarks for a successful, going concern and a consortium, led by Vernon’s Pools multi-millionaire Robert Sangster and ace racehorse trainer Sir Vincent O’Brien, re-opened the track in 1983. Could such a dynamic partnership fail? The course witnessed much success in this period in hosting prestigious races, including the Phoenix Stakes and the Irish Champion Stakes. However, they did fail after just 7 years and the track closed for the final time on Saturday 13th October 1990.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 4 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Mr J H H Peard, Mr Robert Sangster, Sir Vincent O’Brien
Principal Races Phoenix Park Stakes, Irish Champion Stakes
Tuesday 21st August 1849
The Phoenix Park Stakes over 1 ½ miles
1. Postillion, bay horse owned by Mr Williamson
2. Cracow, brown colt owned by Captain Gambler
3. The Darter, bay mare owned by Mr Lane
Ashdown races took place a number of times a year on what was called 'Ashdown Racecourse' part of Phoenix Park, but not exactly the same Phoenix Park track that was famous in the 1980s. The Ashdown meetings sometimes consisted of trotting and Pony races, at other times a steeplechase was part of the programme, and on other occasions the card was made up of 6 furlong flat, 1 1/2 mile flat, 2 mile flat, 2 mile Hurdle and 1 1/2 mile trot. Meetings were usually held on Sunday or Monday.
The final meeting took place on Saturday 13th October 1990.
Course today On Phoenix Park, Dublin.
If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email

Much of the information about this course has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

London Illustrated News

Racing Illustrated 1895-1899

The Sporting & Dramatic Illustrated

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Sporting Magazine

A Long Time Gone by Chris Pitt first published in 1996 ISBN 0 900599 89 8

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1727

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
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  Quantity Cost
Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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