Galway Races 2014 dates: Monday 28th July - Sunday 3rd August
One of the biggest horse racing meetings in the world is staged in Galway in Ireland annually. Some of the best race horses from Ireland and the UK and some from continental Europe compete for some of the biggest prize money in the world. This race meeting is held in July every year is a mix of flat racing and jump racing (National Hunt) and these days it goes on for seven days (Monday to Sunday) at the famous Ballybrit racecourse
The major race of the week, The Galway Plate
, which is a steeplechase run over two miles and six furlongs is run on Wednesday and it attracts the biggest crowd of the festival. This race was originally run in 1869 and has produced numerous famous winners. The only horse to win it three times was Tipperary Boy at the beginning of the twentieth century.
When the Galway races started in 1869 it was just a two-day event. This has been gradually extended over the years and since 1999 it has been a seven day meeting. It is still held on the same Ballybrit racecourse since the beginning but, of course, the track has been greatly improved and facilities expanded so that now it is a thoroughly modern racecourse comparable with any in the world.
For Galway city and the surrounding area, the racing festival has become a major source of revenue. Accommodation throughout the area is usually fully booked and shops, restaurants and pubs do a big proportion of their business in that week.
The Galway Races
is not just a horse racing festival. It is a week-long celebration which brings life to the streets of the city with street theatre, music, hustlers and sellers of all sorts. There is a party atmosphere day and night for seven days. Many of the revellers know little or nothing of racing and are there just for the fun. However there are thousands of dedicated horse racing fans who are there mainly for the racing.
There are always very largecrowds at the races and in 2010 the attendance was more than 150,000. The downturn in the Irish economy does not seem to have affected the level of betting. Prize money, too, has been maintained at previous levels and and this ensures that the quality of the racing has not declined.
2011 was another very successful year.
Businessmen and politicians have always availed of the race meeting to get together and do some networking. Up to now there has been no problem in getting sponsors for the races as it is perceived as a great opportunity to advertise products to a worldwide audience. The seven days of racing is viewed by an audience of tens of millions as it is broadcast live on Irish television and the Sky racing channels.
plays a big part in the week with both ladies and gentlemenstrutting their stuff. Prizes for best dressed lady and best dressed man are often sponsored by local fashion houses.
One of Ireland's best known poets, W.B Yeats
was inspired to write a poem, "Galway Races" and his brother Jack who was a famous painter produced many paintings of racing scenes. Many songs, poems and stories have been composed about this festival and new ones are being written each year as this great race meeting continues.
Visitors to The Galway Races are advised to book their Galway Hotels and Bed and Breakfast early as accommodation is quickly fully booked out for that week.