Galway Races: What They Will Be Like This Year
It’s been a successful restart for English horse racing since the enforced shut down in March 2020. Three months of no action was ended on June 1st with a meet at Newcastle and, since then, a riveting 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket saw Oisin Murphy triumph on the Andrew Balding-trained Kameko as the first Classic of the year thrilled onlookers despite being held under very different circumstances.
The Epsom Derby, too, went ahead in July as Aidan O’Brien saddled a record eighth winner on Serpentine.
Behind closed doors racing might lack the roar of the crowd, but the sport’s competitive nature and edge-of-seat watchability remains intact.
Over the sea in Ireland it’s been a similar story, despite the sport at first looking like it was going to follow models in Australia, Hong Kong and Japan with crowd-free racing in March, it too closed down for three months until 8th June.
Since then the country’s first Classics of 2020, the 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas, were staged at The Curragh on 12-13 June behind closed doors. That man Aidan O’Brian trained Peaceful to an emphatic win in the 1,000 Guineas, while the favourite Siskin triumphed in the 2,000 Guineas, despite looking in trouble on the rails at one point
Next to this, one of Ireland’s most popular racing meetings, the 2020 Galway Races Summer Festival is set to go ahead on Monday 27th July to Sunday 2nd August. Although this most sociable of horse racing festivals will be behind closed doors the organisers are pulling out all the stops to make the meet as entertaining and watchable as possible for the hordes of hungry punters eager to place their horse racing bets.
So, how does a festival that traditionally draws hundreds of thousands of people, not just from across Ireland but from all over the world, present one of the great meetings to the watching public?
First, television and social media are absolutely locked in, bringing the details of the events and, of course, the on-course action in great detail. The organisers are planning a celebration of Galway Races – and of the punters that make this event so special.
The historic Galway Plate will be interactive, with families encouraged to set up their own racecourses in their home or garden and join in the fun on social media. Plus, ahead of the big race, fans will be fascinated to heart in-depth chats with the jockeys as they describe their tactics and give tips on how to handle the old course. Who knows, their comments may just sway which way your own punt goes on the day.
The social spectacular of Ladies Day gives men and women the chance to dress to the nines – and the organisers are hoping a ‘best dressed’ prize will encourage stay-at-home punters to get involved and dress up from home like they would if they were attending the event – and really get into the party spirit with a glass or two of Champagne.
Finally, the festival’s extremely popular Mad Hatter competition will still go ahead, albeit virtually, giving all ages the chance to get creative with the dressing up.
Of course, none of this would be effective without the meet’s legendary ultra-competitive racing on show too – and there’s genuine promise in this year’s field, with the Galway Hurdle now the most valuable National Hunt race in Ireland.
Punters will be hoping for a contest to match the 2019 race when Borice, ridden by Luke Dempsey, bagged another major prize for Gordon Elliott in a thrilling finish.
Whatever the outcome, this famous meet promises much in these unprecedented times – both on and off the racecourse.