Ulster National gets cash boost

Ulster National gets cash boost

12 February 2020

DOWNPATRICK Racecourse has received a lucrative sponsorship package for its flagship Ulster National meeting.

The deal with Randox, a world leader in healthcare diagnostics will see the prestigious race bankrolled for the next five years.

The course, winner of the Sports Venue of the Year in both 2018 and 2019 at the Northern Ireland Hospitality Awards, will host the €50,000 Randox Ulster National on Sunday, March 22.

Randox is based in Crumlin, Co Antrim, and the deal will see the company expand its racing sponsorship portfolio which includes the Aintree Grand National, and title sponsorship of the entire three-day Grand National Festival.

Peter Stewart, Downpatrick Racecourse chairman, said: “We are really excited to partner with such a respected global brand as Randox for our most prestigious race meeting and look forward to working closely together to create a wonderful race day for our customers and achieve our shared objectives.”

“The Randox partnership will ensure we continue to attract high calibre horses for the Randox Ulster National and further endorse its important position on the racing calendar.”

Dr Peter FitzGerald, Randox founder and managing director, said he was delighted that Randox have included the Ulster National in their portfolio. 

“This is an incredibly exciting time to be partnering with Downpatrick Racecourse to add the Randox Ulster National to our racing portfolio,” he said.

“Racing is a sport everyone can enjoy, from all different walks of life, and a partnership with Downpatrick offers us a fantastic opportunity to share our message of preventative health with a wide and engaged audience. 

“We look forward to the first year of the Randox Ulster National, to show our commitment to this wonderful sport and to encourage people to take control of their health and wellbeing with a Randox health check,” he concluded. 

The Ulster National is one of the most historic races on the racing calendar.

Run over three miles and four furlongs, the race was first run in 1939 and has a long and illustrious history.

Caughoo won the race in 1945 and 1946 before going on to win the 1947 Aintree Grand National for jockey Eddie Dempsey and Dublin-based trainer Herbert McDowell. 

Laffy, owned by the Queen Mother, won the Ulster National in 1962 and Pineau De Re also won Downpatrick’s centre piece race in 2013 and subsequently went on to win the Aintree Grand National the next season.

Racing in the Downpatrick area is steeped in Irish folklore.

The first race meeting at Downpatrick was held in 1685 at the old grounds a few miles down the road from where the racecourse is situated today with racing being held on the present course for more than 150 years.