Fifty thousand head west for bumper holiday weekend of gigs and nags

City set to host the busiest weekend of the year

Chanelle McCoy, wife of jockey Tony McCoy, has her hat adjusted by local milliner Mark T Burke yesterday at Ballybrit.  Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Chanelle McCoy, wife of jockey Tony McCoy, has her hat adjusted by local milliner Mark T Burke yesterday at Ballybrit. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

More than 50,000 revellers are set to head to the city from tomorrow as Galway gets ready for its busiest weekend of the year.

The influx of racegoers, tourists and music fans availang of racing at Ballybrit and live music in the city centre will give Galway a much-welcomed €40million boost and will see the city’s streets thronged right through until Monday.

While the Galway Races dominate the agenda, there are plenty of alternative attractions to keep the mammoth crowds entertained. The Race Week Carnival kicks off on the Dock Road this evening (Thursday ) with a free night of music in the big top. Popular tribute band The Bogus Pogues head the line-up, before the exciting Inis Turk Beg Sessions take up the mantle for another free gig on Friday. Music fans are in for a treat over the weekend with legendary Irish band The Stunning set to brew up a storm on Saturday night, before Horslips round off proceedings on Sunday evening.

Today also represents the highlight of the racing week, with Ladies’ Day featuring the Galway Hurdle, and there are three more days of quality racing to follow before the festival culminates on Sunday. While attendances over the opening two days are only marginally down on last year’s festival, the reduction in betting figures has been far more discernible.

Monday’s Tote turnover was subject to a decrease of €40,000 on the 2010 figure, while the bookmakers shipped a far heavier loss. Their turnover was down to €1,464,826 from last year’s figure of €1,678,949. Tuesday saw an even more noticeable decline, with Tote turnover down almost a third to €671,213 from last year’s figure of €967,173. Bookmakers were not immune from

feeling the pinch either, they posted a decrease in turnover of almost €400,000, from €1,850,346 in 2010 to €1,451,297 this year.

Despite the decrease in turnover, it certainly proved a successful couple of days for the layers. Monday saw festival favourite Dermot Weld card only one winner, with a number of well backed stable mates failing to produce the goods. The 13/8 favourite Sulwaan was beaten into the third in the opening race, while Force of Habit made no impression in the following race. Backers did get some respite in the 6.05 with Riviera Poet narrowly defeating Learn, but had to wait until the last for another heavily supported winner, when Saint Gervais led them home.

Tuesday was another testing day with just one outright favourite emerging victorious. Two more joint favourites obliged the punters, but it proved a frustrating day for many with a number of highly fancied horses such as Truckers Delight and Mahaazen failing to win.

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