150,000 punters flock westwards for final flourish of Galway summer

The racetrack being assembled at Ballybrit yesterday — Photo: Joe Travers

The racetrack being assembled at Ballybrit yesterday — Photo: Joe Travers

Organisers are expecting bumper crowds at this year’s Galway Races, with up to 150,000 people expected to pass through the turnstiles during the festival.

With a newly designed Galway Plate trophy and a total prize fund of €1.6 million, the festival is expected to draw huge crowds to Ballybrit throughout next week.

This year will see a change to Monday’s and Tuesday’s fixtures, with the first race off at 4pm on each of the first two days of the festival. Wednesday, Galway Plate day, will see racing begin at 3pm, while the first race on Thursday, Ladies’ Day, is off at 1.50pm. Friday is an evening meeting with the first race off at 5.10pm, while Saturday and Sunday fixtures will begin at 2.15pm and 2.30pm respectively.

The feature race of the festival, the Galway Plate, will this year boast a new Plate sponsored by the Tote, which also sponsors the full card on Thursday. The trophy was designed by third year NCAD student Matthew Lynch, who was chosen from among NCAD students in a competition earlier this year.

The original Galway Plate, known as the Galway Salver, dates back to 1741 and is currently housed in the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks in the silver collection.

The Tote also recently renewed its sponsorship of Plate Day for a further three years.

There will be a total of 52 races at Ballybrit over the course of the week-long festival, with the seven-race card at Monday’s meeting sponsored by the Galway’s Best Hotels Group.

Ladies’ Day will see Anthony Ryan’s celebrate 10 years of sponsorship of the Best Dressed Lady competition, and prizes worth some €20,000 will be up for grabs at this year’s event.

Children under 16 can enjoy free entry to Ballybrit if accompanied by a parent or guardian — student entry fee applies to unaccompanied children — and Sunday, traditionally family day as well as Mad Hatter’s Day — promises to be a great day out for punters of all ages.

Visit www.galwayraces com or facebook.com /galwayraces for updates during next week’s festival.

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