If the sun gods did us a favour on Monday, it was back to business as usual with a bang yesterday as Galway was hit by biblical levels of rain.
Galway wouldn’t be Galway if the weather wasn’t the primary topic of conversation outside of the nags. With torrential rain hammering down, locals were reminding the racing blow-ins that it was promised “worse for Friday”. Looking skyward, it was hard to see how it could really get any worse but then a soft day here comes with about 25 inches of rain.
But it takes a bit more than a downpour to stop Ballybrit obsessives from turning out, and in style. The ladies still headed for the course in glad rags. Some of them looked a sorry sight drenched to the bone, huddled around champagne buckets. Who said having fun was easy?
A somewhat more sober and drier sight was the one and, thankfully, only, political presence at Ballybrit yesterday. Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney was at the course to launch a report on Horse Racing Ireland, but was determined to have a bit of fun in the rain while he was at it.
However, he was a little cagey with the tips. “I will have a few bets yeah. I’m not a good man for tips really. To be honest I’ll be trying to get tips rather than give them out. Anytime I’ve given tips I’ve lost votes out of it,” he joked.
One man avoiding all contact with the political classes was actor and comedian Paddy Courtney. A major racing fan, he had a little chuckle when told that the minister was there. Apparently, a corporate gig he had done in Cork recently didn’t hit the right tone with some of the politicos.
“I had a gig recently and he was there and I don’t think the crowd enjoyed it at all. I was being my usual self but it wasn’t appreciated. Corporate gigs and me don’t mix obviously,” the Shameless star said.
Paddy was more interested in the racing than the acting, given the day that was in it. Rain, hail or shine it didn’t bother him.
“I love Galway. I come every year. It’s been good to me both professionally and personally. Look, I’ve seen all the weather you can imagine here and they still know how to have a good time,” he said.
As for the racing, it wasn’t quite as big a day for Dermot Weld yesterday, but he still managed to come away with one winner. Tight pockets don’t seem to be in evidence much around the City of the Tribes so far. According to Hayley O’Connor of Ladbrokes, betting turnover is holding up and the punters are sitting pretty.
“The rain clouds might just be our silver lining as testing conditions can often change the results, but at the moment the punters are on top. Fingers crossed the weather might do us a favour but it’s not been a profitable festival so far,” she said.
All the bookies need is a little bit of sunshine. So let it rain.
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