Guest Author - Tony King/MarySweeney
In the U.S.A. it’s the Kentucky Derby. In the Middle East it’s the Dubai World Cup, and in Ireland , it’s The Galway Races.
Held each year in July, with follow-up sessions in September and October, The Galway Races are premier social events in Irish horse racing.
Friends and families can be found year after year, dressed in Ascot -like refinery, to see and be seen by all the “important” people. Pop stars, actors, politicians of all breeds use the Galway Races as one of their rare “public” events, without them actually being “on display”.
People of all ages prepare for the races, plan for holidays, and arrange schedules to participate in Ireland's most sought after equine events.
It's more than just the racing that bring people out. It's the social atmosphere, the air full of excitement, the whispering of gossip and good tips, the aroma of cooking food, the drinking of “a pint or two”, champagne corks popping, and the cries of delight and the tears of woe at small fortunes won and lost on a bet on some strong and trusted steed.
People from all walks of life turn up for the races, and it is not surprising to see a farmer just fresh in from the fields “hob-nobbing” with a lady in a silk dress decked out with an over-the-top-hat. Celebrities sip drinks and all manner of political shenanigans and business deals take place all around the packed track. The famous and the infamous, the blue-collar worker and the millionaire all rub shoulders at this event which organizers claim outshines all other events anywhere in Ireland.
The Galway race course has both flat and national hunt (jumping )races ( similar to the British Grand National). The track is a right handed course one mile and two furlongs long, with an incline where the last two fences are situated. After the final jump or “hedge” there is a sharp incline to the finish line deliberately placed there to add a little interest to the end of each race.
The gates to the racetrack open two and a half hours before the first race each day. All routes to the Race-course are marked by A.A. signs.
The course is located approximately three miles from Galway city, and two miles from Galway Airport, so it is easily accessible if you’re staying in Galway or if you take a flight in from other parts of Europe.
The only piece of advice you need to remember is ........ Give yourself plenty of time to get there. There will be long lines of traffic in and around the track , especially near the entrances to the parking area.
Oh ----and one more piece of advice. Bring plenty of cash, but leave the credit cards behind. The Galway Races can make a betting addict out of the most fiscally sound money manager!