Galway (County Galway )
Flat, Hurdles, Fences
Annual Meeting No.
Rail from Dublin or Cork (2.5 hours)
Fly to Shannon then bus, car or train (1.5 hours in the air)
Town to Racecourse (5 miles) special buses run on race days
Taxis. Many available on ranks in town.
Two vast stands, only one open on the day we visited. A number of classes of restaurant and the usual roving food sellers. A number of bars, although not all manned on the day and hence leading to a little bit of queuing. A very large external tote and tote in all bars.
Mutiple hotels in town from 5 star downwards and lots of good value B&Bs
Festival tickets appear to be on a par with the price we paid for this smaller event at around 20 euros. Meal deal and packages are also available.
(1) Return after challenge complete
October 25th – Irish Tracks Visited (1)
Of the two tracks we were destined to visit in Ireland during our first stay, one was the country mouse in the form of Clonmel, more of this on another update. The second track was most definitely the city mouse and this was Galway. It is on the outskirts of a vibrant city which has suffered from on-going battles politically and with the rising tides, and danger of regular flooding. Over the last few years it has undergone some major uplifts and gentrification and as such is now a really good place for a little tourist weekend. But it is clear that racing is a big deal here with the number of specialist buses, regular notices of events and general references in the city centre. There is a festival in August which runs for seven days. On the day we were there, English attendance was quite considerable.
We stayed in one of the larger hotels in town and as the concierge helped us to our room, we were already given our first tip. “Jennies Jewel” said the young man, “I’ve never lost money on her”. We were suitably convinced and made a note.
On the following morning as we set off for the races, keen to get there early as usual to sort out placepots etc, we sat on the bus and paid for our seats. The bus driver then started to fill us in on the form and which jockeys were local boys. Based on this we had tip number 2. On our way back into town with the same driver, he was pleased that we had made money on it. Tip number 3 comes later.
The coach drops you right at the entrance and having presented our self-print tickets (isn’t the internet grand) we walked through the tunnel under the track and up in front of the stands. Now although clear and bright, it was going to be a cold one, so Madam Hoof and I decided that bets on and bar open were the order of the day. The track side areas were very spacious, but I imagine that might be a very different matter during the summer festival. The layout is a good one, in that the parade ring is off to the left of the grandstand as your look at the track and is very spacious. In fact in poor weather or extreme cold you can still see it adequately from the second floor of the stands where there is another handy bar.
We got through a couple of races and this is another great track for visibility, it is not quite natural amphitheatre but it is close. From the pictures of the festival the central car park is jam packed but on this day it was not at all busy. I would hate to be a motorist trying to get out when it was full. The view from the grandstand is down into the city and out to sea across the Shannon estuary. Ireland certainly delivers on the backdrop to the racecourse.
Madam Hoof was now getting restless for a little drinkies and so we put on an early bet and headed for the upstairs bar. This has now become very full and with fairly slow service. While I made myself scarce looking at horses, MH stood to get served. Upon her return eight minutes later, she dragged me back downstairs in the direction of the bookies. She had a tip. Apparently while waiting she was perusing the good old Racing Post and she gets a tap on the shoulder from the large robustly dressed man beside her. He told to forget what she was looking at and pointed to a horse. “Why should it pick that?” she asked the gentleman. “Because I am the owner and I know.” Well that was good enough for the lovely MH and she did indeed out money on the nose and pick up a tidy return.
Overall, this being our first experience of Irish tracks, it was a pleasant one. But here’s the rub. Why can you not do certain bets on the tote in Ireland that you can do in England? When I tried to place a swinger they thought I had grown a new head. And any mention of a quadpot seemed to draw a blank too. Are there any other differences (ignoring Euros, I got that bit). Well what it made me do was try some other tote bets out for size. Extacta and Trifecta, this strange new world of numbers is starting to appeal to us both. The thing about racing and also betting is that it has a language and in fact a cadence all of its own. You easily fit into the 30-45 minute breaks between races as if there was nothing more natural. Like slipping on warm slippers.
There is a constant energy to racetracks that is similar but different for each one, which makes me think, should they had a theme song? Is so, I think Galway might be Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, as the track comes alive for a few hours then returns to look much like an office complex at the weekend when all the workers have gone home, cold and silent.
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