Some 150,000 punters are set to flock into the city over the next week as Galway Races celebrates its 150th birthday with a bumper meeting full of special events.
Eight hundred horses will take part in the 52 races over the seven days, all competing for record prizemoney of €2.3million, with at least one race each day carrying a prize fund of €120,000.
The iconic Tote.com Galway Plate will carry a prize fund of €300,000 alone, making it the most valuable race ever to be held in the 150-year history of the event.
More than 45 separate musical acts will provide entertainment at the racecourse over the seven days. 160,000 pints will be pulled, and more than 5,000 beef rolls will be consumed.
Caterers at the course are preparing 70,000 meals with almost 2,000 people employed in some capacity at the event.
The boost will also be felt throughout the region with hotels and restaurants reporting brisk business in advance of the week.
Galway Races spokeswoman Sinead Cassidy said that ticket sales have been very strong this year and are already well in excess of the 2018 figures. Last year inclement weather affected attendances at the track but organisers are hopeful that better conditions will result in greater crowds next week.
“Our 150th birthday has really struck a chord with the customers and next week’s festival is perhaps the best that we have ever created,” said Ms Cassidy last evening, as final touches were being put to plans for the event that is worth millions to the Galway economy.
“Racegoers this year will be treated to a complimentary Galway Races 150th lapel pin and a commemorative brochure as a memento to celebrate the year, a small gift from the Galway Race Committee to thank all those who support the races now and over the years. We will also have a photo exhibition throughout the racecourse for all our customers to enjoy,” she said.
On Monday, sculptor John Behan will unveil his sculpture ‘Leading In The Winner,’ a piece that was specially commissioned by the Race Committee to mark the 150th birthday.
Our front page photograph this week gives people a first look at the remarkable piece.
Bus Éireann will provide direct Special Shuttle Services for race-goers for the seven days of this hugely popular event. The services will run to and from the heart of Galway city at Eyre Square to the track.
Buses will depart at 14.00 from Eyre Square West to Ballybrit – every 15 minutes – up until 19.00. Buses will depart from the racecourse on demand, up until 23.00.