This year’s racing festival is set to be massive with a total of 62 horses entered in this year’s William Hill Galway Plate, and 61 horses entered in the The Arthur Guinness Galway Hurdle.
The opening night of the festival, Monday July 27, will be a night to enjoy with some of Ireland’s leading sports stars. The event, taking place on a stage between the Millennium Stand and the Killanin Stand, will be hosted by Daithi O’Sé and will see a host of stars share their tales of sporting glory and heartbreak with the Galway races punter. Sporting guests on the evening include Leo Culllen and Bernard Jackman from Leinster rugby as well as champion jockeys Ruby Walsh and Johnny Murtagh. Mickey Joe Harte, who claimed the first ever You’re A Star title, will provide musical entertainment to sing and dance along to.
The Best Dressed Lady competition takes place this year on Ladies’ Day on Thursday July 30. This year’s competition is sponsored by Anthony Ryans of Shop Street. The Best Dressed Lady will receive a one carat diamond solitaire pendant valued at €8,000, €2,000 cash and €2,000 in vouchers for a shopping spree at Anthony Ryans. The prize for the winner of the best hat is a luxury trip for two to a top European destination including flights and accommodation valued at €1,500. All finalists at the best dressed marquee will be presented with a special collection of Lancôme cosmetics compliments of University Pharmacy, Galway.
The judging panel for this year’s event includes well-known Irish and international media personalities and fashion journalists, Bernard Connoll; International fashion stylist and fashion director with Social and Personal Magazine; Bairbre Power, Editor of Weekend magazine and fashion stylist on RTE's The Afternoon Show; PJ Gibbon; Editor, Social and Personal Magazine; Sinead Desmond, presenter of Ireland AM on TV3; as well as Patricia McCrossan, Editor, Galway NOW; and Fiona Durkin, fashion consultant with Anthony Ryan.
Sunday August 2 is family day. Admission is free for under 14s with toe tapping entertainment from the Mulkerrin brothers, winners of the All Ireland Talent Show. The Mad Hatter competition, sponsored by Ireland West Airport Knock and Sunway Holidays, is one for all milliners in the making with some great prizes to be won including sun holidays and games consoles.
Local and national media have again re-affirmed their commitment to showcase the Galway Races on a national stage. RTE will televise the first four days of the year’s festival. At the Races (Sky Channel 418 ) will screen all 51 races live. Galway Bay FM will provide live coverage of every race throughout the meeting. The Tony Fenton show on Today fm will broadcast live on Thursday, July 30th.
Lucky punters can relish the prospect of €25,000 and €50,000 guaranteed Tote Jackpots on all seven days of the festival. In addition, anyone who plays the jackpot can be in with a chance to win a dazzling diamond necklace worth €12,000, kindly sponsored by Cara Diamonds of Galway and Dubai.
There are racecard competitions with some fantastic relaxing hotel breaks. There is even a chance to be a winner at the summer festival, even if your horse loses. The Tote Losing Ticket Draws will take place each day for luxurious breaks away in some of Ireland’s top hotels.
Bus Eireann will operate a regular shuttle bus each day to and from the races departing from the Skeffington Arms Hotel in Eyre Square. As always the comfort and enjoyment of the punter is to the forefront of the Galway Race organisers’ concerns, who urge all those travelling to Ballybrit to come early to the races, with gates opening two and half hours before the first race each day.