Well after a glorious week, it finally came. Rain and in biblical proportions.
There have been quite a few famous weather years in Galway and Friday of 2015 took the biscuit. After so much drinking, punting and carousing, it was like the Gods decided it was time to put a stop to the debauchery and opened the heavens.
Not that it stopped the crowds. If there is one thing that defy all logic and reason, it is the Galway punting crowd. Most sensible people would have opened their curtains, looked skyward and said ‘No chance’, but still out they came. Hats, high heels the works. Umbrella sellers were out in force and at a fiver a pop, they cleaned up.
However, the women had reason to glam up. The sun popped out for a few hours and there was yet another competition in Friday’s Fair Lady Best Dressed Competition, with the prize presented by Ireland rugby star Robbie Henshaw.
He was looking dapper but said he was focused on bigger prizes with the World Cup coming up.
“We are into a Test week next week so it’s tough so nerves will be building from Monday but we are looking forward to getting back and getting the ball into our hands. I’ve been here for the last three or four years. We always come, it’s a yearly thing we do with Connacht. We always come on the Friday. The boys are all around so we are all sharing tips and stuff like that. It’s been really nice and the rain cleared off which is the best thing,” he said.
Another man knocking about was FAI chief executive John Delaney but he proved to be an elusive target for journalists.
There was a time you could spit up in Ballybrit and hit a politician. However, all has changed utterly. They were very thin on the ground this year with just a handful of former TDs in attendance.
A spot of rain hasn’t dampened a successful week. Galway Racecourse Manager John Moloney said he was delighted with the turnout and the general atmosphere of the week.
“We’re very happy with the numbers we got. We’re up on last year. It was incident free and we got some great results. We knew on Thursday when pre-sales were way up and when the weather was good that it would be a big one. People were still coming in the gates for the last race,” he said.
For Mr Moloney, it was also a year to reminisce. He is retiring this year after 26 years at the helm and passing the baton to his son Michael.
“I can sit back and relax now. September comes around quick but that will be Michael’s problem now,” he added.
As for the punting, it’s been a long week for bookies but, all-in-all, a successful one. Money gambled was up to €3.3m by Friday. Bookmakers took in €1.9m with the Tote taking €1.2m and Ladbrookes on course shop taking €250,000.
Ladbrookes spokesperson Hayley O’Connor said it was still a tight race but the bookies were pretty happy overall with how the week has gone.
“We have hit the front around the home bend but are only marginally in the lead, hopefully we will hold out position to the winning post. Whether we will be dining out in Moran’s or Supermacs we won’t know until the weekend results,” she said.
Spokesperson for Paddy Power Féilim Mac An Iomaire was looking tired after a hectic week but already looking forward to 2016.
“The punters landed some solid blows but at the end of the week we’ve just about shaded it on points,” he said.
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