Thousands of racing fans are flocking to Galway this week, and hoping that the weather stays dry for their days at Ballybrit.
Both crowds and Tote betting were up slightly on last year for the first day of the ever-popular Galway Races on Monday, which saw 19,214 people pass through the turnstiles at the racecourse on the east of the city.
Monday evening’s racing crowd was up by 300 from 2014 and the Tote turnover was €782,000, also up when compared to the first day last year. However, betting with the bookies was down slightly to €1.2 million, compared to €1.24 million in 2014.
But the outlook is positive for the rest of the week, with a good take-up of hospitality packages this year and offerings sold out until Saturday.
Today, Wednesday, will see President Michael D. Higgins attend the racing festival, and present the Galway Plate. Thursday’s racing meanwhile will be the highlight for many, featuring the Guinness Galway Hurdle, the richest national hunt race to be held anywhere in Ireland this year. Total prizemoney for the race stands at €300,000.
But, of course, Thursday is also the prestigious Ladies’ Day, this year sponsored by Kilkenny Group for the first time. A word of warning for those attending, however, as Met Eireann is forecasting that the day should be dry ‘most of the time’, but heavy showers are expected in the evening.
This year’s Galway Races, which run until Sunday 2 August, is a special one for the Moloney family. It will be the last year of John Moloney’s role as general manager at the racecourse, ending a 26 year reign in which major developments have taken place at the course. On 6 August, Mr Moloney will officially finish as general manager. The role will be taken over by his son Michael.
See our special feature on page 26 for more on this year’s Galway Races.