Friday 24 March 2017

Local business delighted as visitors share wealth

Brian McDonald

IT'S not quite like the days of 'the tent' but the tills are still ringing at Ballybrit.

Fears that the opening of the new Dublin-Galway motorway would have an adverse effect on thenumbers coming through the turnstiles at Ballybrit proved unfounded.

With driving time between the capital and the Galway racetrack now down to a mere two hours, there were concerns that punters would opt to choose to travel home after the races rather than spend the night in the City of the Tribes.

But all the indications at the mid-way point of Race Week are that the opposite is the case. So far, it seems that the ease of access from all points east has tempted day-trippers who might otherwise have chosen not to travel.

Attendance figures are up -- more than 20,000 were present yesterday -- betting stats are rudely healthy and hotels, restaurants and pubs are all reporting that business is at least on a par with 2009.

More than 150,000 will have passed through the gates at Ballybrit by the time the last race is run on Sunday, contributing largely to the €60m Race Week economy.

Galway Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Coyle reported that better value in room and restaurant rates, allied to attractive last-minute deals, appeared to have drawn the usual large crowds West yet again.

"We are optimistic that local businesses will do as well as last year. If they manage to do so, that will be a fair achievement," Mr Coyle said.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that an incident involving a visitor who sustained a cut to his abdomen happened in the city centre and not at the course.

Racecourse manager John Maloney reassured racegoers that adequate security measures were in place at the track.

A garda spokesperson said it had not been determined if the victim had his wallet taken by pickpockets in the incident.

eight pages of racing: sport

Irish Independent

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