Cathal Noonan/INPHO

What's the big fuss about the Galway Races? Here's everything you need to know

When does the racing start? And, more importantly, who’s going to win?

Why do people love Galway so much?

What’s not to love about summer racing? Technically, you get to spend a couple of hours out in the sun having the craic with your friends and family (though as we’ve seen this week, summer sun in Ireland is strictly optional.)

It’s a little bit like Disneyland for adults — if Disneyland was predominantly based around betting and beer.

And it’s getting more popular every year. Organisers expect around 150,000 people to attend this week to watch the 52 races worth €1.8 million in prize money.

When does it all start?

Today! The first of the punters will flock to Ballybrit on Monday afternoon for the first day of a marathon seven-day festival.

One thing to remember: double-check the time of the first race before you go.

  • Monday: 5.15pm
  • Tuesday: 5.15pm
  • Wednesday: 3.00pm
  • Thursday: 1.50pm
  • Friday: 5.10pm
  • Saturday: 2.40pm
  • Sunday: 2.15pm

That’s a lot of races – which are the important ones?

The two biggest races are Galway Plate and the Guinness Galway Hurdle, the feature races on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

Expect to see some familiar names like Rebel Fitz and Rule the World in the line-up for the Plate on Wednesday, while the Tony Martin-trained Quick Jack looks set to go off favourite in the Hurdle.

When is Ladies’ Day?

Thursday is traditionally Ladies’ Day which, combined with the Galway Hurdle, means you can expect it to be a busy day on the course.

Since 2013, Galway has also run a second Best Dressed competition on the Friday with more prizes for the snazzily attired.

If you have a young family, you might prefer the Family Day and Mad Hatters Day on the Sunday when children are admitted for free.

Mireia Frances, Deborah Mirelles and Caroline Sanz Mireia Frances, Deborah Mirelles and Caroline Sanz at the 2014 Festival. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Can I watch it on TV?

Yes, RTÉ will have live coverage from Monday through to Thursday. After that, you’ll have to find yourself access to AttheRaces if you want to watch the last three days of the festival.

Any tips on who to back?

There’s a very good reason why Dermot Weld is known as the King of Ballybrit. Remarkably, he has been leading trainer at the festival for the last 28 years!

In a record-breaking week in 2011, he sent 40 horses to the Galway Races — and 17 of them won!

Now that doesn’t mean he will win every race but if you’re stuck for a pick, you could do a lot worse.

Will I see anybody famous there?

You should do. President Michael D Higgins has been known to drop in from time to time:

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

As are the rugby lads:

Fergus McFadden with David Kilcoyne and Conor Murray Fergus McFadden with David Kilcoyne and Conor Murray. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Fergus McFadden, Stephen Ferris, Jessica Harrington and Alan Quinlan McFadden, Stephen Ferris and Alan Quinlan chat to trainer Jessica Harrington. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

How to react when your horse wins at the Galway Races – A guide by The42

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