It is one of the highlights of the sporting summer and this year’s Galway Races will see as many as 150,000 racegoers filing through the turnstiles in ten weeks time.
While other parts of the country have people returning from around the world to gather together at Christmas, Galway has always had the same for Race Week.
In 2018 the game is being stepped up to new heights with more new development having taken place since the 2017 festival and only one year out from celebrating the 150th Anniversary.
The contractors moved on site the Tuesday after last year’s Festival and the new Wilson Lynch Building will transform the racecourse in terms of the flow of people and the service we can offer,” racecourse manager Michael Moloney told Sport for Business when we sat down this week to look ahead.
“We are very conscious of the part we play in the life of the City and the people of Galway.”
“The new facility will open up a new area of the racecourse and will have 70 Tote windows facing East, West and South as well as a new coffee shop, a state of the art Ladbrokes betting facility and a new Champagne Bar on the first floor with views out over three sides and an external balcony for patrons to enjoy and watch the action on the track as well as in the parade ring.”
“We chose to name it after Wilson Lynch who was the original landowner who gave the site to the Race Committee back in 1869 and who was the spark for the joy and the entertainment that the Races have provided to Galway ever since.”
“Next year we will celebrate 150 years of the Galway races and we have never been in a better position.”
“Our advance ticket sales are two and a half times ahead of this same week last year which is a testament to the commitment of our patrons.”
“Corporate hospitality is completely sold out on Wednesday and Thursday with the Sold out signs about to go up on Friday as well.”
“So far we have taken bookings from over 80 different countries around the world as well, an indicator of what a draw the week is for both bringing people back to Galway or to experience it for the first time.”
Galway has always been a blend of high-class racing but also the social side and the proximity of the racecourse to the city centre is a big part of that.
Its importance to the local hospitality sector can be judged by the presence of no less than eight local hotels among the 28 strong list of sponsors involved for race week.
“The social side is really important,” added Moloney. “This year we are delighted to have Galway native and successful businesswoman Chanelle McCoy on board to judge the g Hotel & Spa Best Dressed competitions at the Festival. Chanelle is a regular racegoer here and a fantastic supporter of the Galway Races.”
“On the racing side we passed through €2 million in total prize money last year and that is a major focus on attracting the best of summer racing.”
“The Guinness Galway Hurdle is worth €300,000, the richest race of its kind in Ireland and the Tote Galway Plate is worth €250,000. The feature races on all of our Festival days are now worth a minimum of €100,000 and we are working our way towards a minimum race value for all the races of €15,000.”
“We have made a few changes for this year with The Galway Plate moving back from a 3 PM start to 5 PM. That should give a boost to those who have to work during at least part of the day to get to the track and also to our TV viewing figures.”
“It’s all about catering for those who are coming to the races. This week we are launching a new shop window competition for locals businesses across the city and the county, helping them to help us to help them, creating a sense of value for us all.”
“Race Week contributes well over €50 Million to the local economy and it grows in stature and importance with every year.”
“Our job is to maintain that, improving where we can as we go and always keeping the essence of what makes the week so special.”
You’d have to say they are doing a pretty good job on all fronts.