It's Guinness Galway Hurdle day, the busiest day of the Festival. It's also the Best Dressed Ladies competition, sponsored for the second year by the G Hotel & Spa. 

The feature hurdle is worth €300,000, with the winner collecting a wallet-busting €177,000. Even sixth place is rewarded with a handy €6,000 - enough for two months training fees for most owners!

The Best- Dressed isn't far behind. Just clock these prizes worth over €10k including
  • A celebratory Galway getaway for two in the Penthouse at the g Hotel & Spa, champagne on arrival, a delicious ten course dining experience in Restaurant gigi’s – holder of two AA culinary rosettes and voted ‘Best Hotel Restaurant in Galway’, the g afternoon tea and a day of pampering in the gorgeous spa ESPA at the g.
  • A stunning 18ct white gold solitaire diamond pendant worth €2,500 courtesy of Hartmanns jewellers.
  • A hair makeover in Yourells salon in Galway to the value of €200.
  • A fabulous VIP trip to London with return flights for two, two nights accommodation and €500 spending money.

The heavens open shortly before the feature, which sees 2016 winner, 10y old Clondaw Warrior, try to hold onto his crown. But weight tells on the softening ground and it's not to be.

Seamus Mullins has brought Fergall over from England. His owners, Andrew Cocks & Tara Johnson will have paid €3000 to run (plus transport). Agonisingly, Fergall comes 7th.

 It's another in the green & gold who lands the prize. Given the water raining down on the course, it is, of course, the appropriately named Tigris River, ridden by Barry Geraghty for Joseph Patrick O'Brien. He has had a fantastic start to his training career & is on 4 winners for the week. He could even give Willie Mullins a run for his money for the Festival's leading NH trainer. When asked if he'll be celebrating we're told very firmly, " No, I'll be ready for work at 7am".  It's very clear that both skill & work ethic has been passed from Aiden to his son. 

 The stylish winner of the g Hotel Best Dressed event on Ladies Day of the Galway Races was Aoife McCana, from Galway. Wearing a stunning dress by Ghost, shoes from her travels in Taiwan and a self-made head piece and clutch she was the judging panel's unanimous favourite amid 19 other incredibly stylish finalists.

 It's clear that Guinness Hurdle Day has overtaken Plate Day as the best attended day of the meeting. The combination of Racing and Fashion has increased footfall significantly, whilst also providing a massive boost for Irish fashion & millinery. And while orange was 'big' on the fashion front, it was the green & gold that prevailed on the course!

Recent comments regarding poor Owners' hospitality at Windsor by Richard Hughes have ruffled a few feathers. 

In contrast, the Galway Committee recognised that they needed to do something better than free tea, coffee and cake. Last year, in partnership with catering partner, Lydon House, a new OT venue was created, for those with runners on the day.

It was the visionary Pat Ryan (for the Committee), in the 80s, who set up the original partnership with Galway firm, Lydon House. Working on the premise that both parties needed to offer value, variety, quality, but also be profitable, a range of outlets was devised for race meetings. Obviously Festival week is the busiest. Today, there are 24 different outlets on the course. These range from basic "Best-dressed Chips", through the Tea & Pastry room to the rack of lamb or John Dory in the Hurdle Hospitality Suite.

Lydon House also feed the stable staff from 7am. Security, ground staff, cleaners, management and even the Gardai are fed & watered each day. Out of the 1500 staff employed at Galway, 800 are working for Lydon.

John Sherry, Chairman of Lydon House, oversees this massive enterprise. He & his team taste everything from all 24 public outlets every morning. He's done so for the last 33 years & driven the expansion of Lydon House's provision. If you eat or drink anything at Galway, it's been sold by Lydon House!

The OT marquee has seen a 200% increase in take up from its inception last year. Today you would have been hard pressed to find a table. When you look at the images below, you can see why. The fare - & yes, I've done my research - is delicious. 

Let's hope other racecourses in Ireland & the UK take note. 

Galway always provides its goodly share of heart-warming moments. Today was no exception as Robbie McNamara's Cascavelle won the fourth under a determined ride by Galway jockey, Billy Lee.

The crowd gave Robbie a fantastic reception as he came into the winner's circle. Clearly moved, Robbie was quick to acknowledge his delight at training his first Galway Festival winner, " the monkey's off my back now." He's looking forward to running Cascavelle in some choice handicaps over the summer -so are we! 


He's only done it again! 

Willie 'Wonder' Mullins - Day 2 feature race (A mile handicap) - €120,000 value with the winner receiving €70,800. 
Declan McDonogh found all kinds of trouble during the race and Riven was well-buried midfield. 'Squeezing' through the tiniest of gaps, McDonogh drove Riven into the lead and past the post.

The Stewards were, understandably, keen to discuss McDonogh's deployment of rugby skills during the race. However, the result stood. I suspect, though, that Mr McDonogh may be due a little holiday though we won't know that till later!

In two days Mullins-trained horses have won €129,000 in the feature races. That's just a minimum - not counting placed & other winning horses. I think it's fair to say that Willie is taking full advantage of the reduced entries of Dermot Weld horses. 


Local jockey Billy Lee is riding out of his skin. With 3 winners so far & placed efforts in two other races, he's definitely a jockey to follow this week. It's great to see.



Mon 31st July.
If anyone wondered what it took to put on a Racing Festival like Galway, have a look at this excellent press release.

From direct employment at Ballybrit to the impact on the farming, transport, hotel & retail industries, Galway's Festival provides €54 MILLION value for the local economy.


Every racecourse should provide this helpful fact sheet for its major festivals! I love the image of Dermot Weld in the bottom RH corner. Is he watching out for Willie Mullins, who took last year's Festival Trainer title? He'll need to! Willie's just won Monday's feature race - a cool €59,000 out of the €100, 000 guaranteed. Oh - he got 3rd & 4th as well. Greedy so n so!!