Locals all set for Galway Racing Festival

Next week thousands of Roscommon people will join with the tens of thousands of others from all over the country and abroad to attend the annual Galway racing festival 2007. The Galway Festival is undoubtedly the highpoint of the summer season with 7 glorious days and nights of top class racing. It has been said of the festival that it once brought Galway city to a standstill, but now it brings the whole country to a standstill.    The 2007 Festival will see the unveiling of the new Killanin Stand which will provide extra viewing and corporate hospitality for festival racegoers.  Monday is The Big Bash bringing the excitement of the racecourse into the Guinness & Oyster Bar and the featured G.P.T. Amateur Handicap has been won by such household names as Dermot Weld (in 1964), Peter Scudamore, Tony Martin and Ruby Walsh.   Wednesday’s feature is the William Hill Galway Plate, the racing highlight of the meeting and a race with a long and proud tradition. With a maximum field almost guaranteed, this two-mile, six-furlong contest is ultra-competitive and is normally run at a scorching pace throughout. In recent times, Dermot Weld’s Ansar narrowly failed to become the first horse ever to win it on three consecutive occasions while Aidan O’Brien’s Life Of  A Lord was another dual winner in 1995 and 1996.   This year there  will be plenty of local interest in the big race. Oran Climate owned by Roscommon businessman Des Whyte is entered  and is priced at 20/1 – however it is advisable to check the declarations before splashing the cash.    Thursday is Ladies Day – a tradition for many years and a perfect day for entering the Best Dressed Person Competition. There are great prizes on offer for the best attire as well as a prize for the Best Hat and in recent times over 48,000 racegoers have thronged the enclosures. The feature race on Thursday is the Guinness Galway Handicap Hurdle – possibly the most competitive race of the entire season. Again, a full field is virtually guaranteed and a strong pace almost always ensues. There is little or no room for jumping errors and luck in running is very important. Wexford trainer Paul Nolan has won this race three times in the last five years with his Cloone River landing a monster gamble in 2004.   Sunday is Mad Hatter Day with great prizes on offer for the most creative hat on the day.