Galway Races expecting 150,000 punters as Ruby returns to action
Galway Races are set to get off to a galloping start on Monday with 150,000 people expected to descend on Ballybrit Racecourse across the week - and a whopping €2m expected to be won by lucky punters.
The festival is a favourite with horse enthusiasts and those looking to enjoy the social scene in the City of the Tribes, with ticket sales already topping last year's sales.
"Advance ticket sales are pacing well ahead of last summer with corporate hospitality sold out Monday to Saturday," said a spokesperson for the festival.
"There's something very special about the Galway Races that draws people in year on year.
"It's a multi-generational event with all members of the family in attendance.
"Our festival has a huge devotion of supporters and we look forward to welcoming our race-goers next week. We're ready. Bring it on!"
This will be the 149th year of the races and the week will be made even more special as it marks the return of champion jockey Ruby Walsh.
Walsh has been out of action since a horrific fall at Cheltenham last March in which he broke his leg, leading to a four-month rehabilitation.
Asked by the Herald yesterday if he felt the pressure ahead of Galway with such a huge crowd in attendance, the racing legend said that it could prove to be a "tricky" track.
However, he said coming back from injury at Galway was as good a starting place as any for him as the social element of the races was just as big as the races themselves for the punters attending.
"I have had plenty of luck there in the past and hopefully that won't desert me," he added.
Gates open at Ballybrit at 2.30pm on Monday with the first race starting at 5.20pm.
It will be a case of fascinators and frocks at the ready with the biggest day on the calendar the famous Ladies' Day on Thursday.
The most stylish lady will walk away with a pearl and diamond pendant worth €6,000. The winner will also take away €2,000 in prize money, a trip for two to Paris, and a stay in the G Hotel penthouse, which sponsors the competition.
The fashion stakes will remain high with the launch of Friday's Most Stylish with Athlone Towncentre. Dancing With The Stars finalist and Cork camogie star Anna Geary will be on the look-out for the most fashionable race-goers on the day.