The Galway Races celebrates 150 years as Ireland’s and one of Europe’s largest racing festivals next week, with bumper crowds expected for the celebrations.
Organisers have pulled out all the stops this year in honour of reaching the significant milestone of a century and a half of entertaining punters from all over Ireland and the world.
Crowds of around 150,000 are expected this year with around €100m predicted to be gambled over the seven days of the festival.
The Galway Races contributes over €54m to the local economy and organisers have said that advance ticket sales have proved very strong, pacing ahead of last year’s figures.
Prize money has been boosted to a record-breaking level in Galway to over €2.3m, an increase of €250,000 on last year. With fifty-two races over the seven days, each day offers a minimum prize fund of €120,000 for the feature race, with a minimum value for any race at Galway standing at €17,000.
As always, the big race of the week will be thetote.com Galway Plate on Wednesday — a race synonymous with Galway and key to the history of the festival.
This year, the race has received a significant increase of €50,000 with the prize fund for the 150th running of this race now standing at €300,000.
President Michael D Higgins is once again expected to present the Galway Plate to winning connections with recent winners including Carlingford Lough, Road To Riches, and Balko Des Flos.
There are few weeks on the Irish social scene quite as raucous or popular as the Galway Races. As always with the festival in the west, the fashion is as much of a draw as the horses with the winner of Ladies Day taking home a generous prize package.
The prize this year includes a luxury holiday to the Seychelles plus €3,000 in spending money.