A native's guide to Galway Races: 'the boys are brought along for show and are on the lead for the day with the women'
'We're here for the week...'
Sports commentator, 'Irish Field'
For many racegoers, Brendan McArdle's familiar face beams out from the best seat in the house as he natters with jockeys, trainers and owners in the winner's enclosure about those epic racecourse battles.
"It is a social holiday for people in the summer. A chance to meet people they might not have seen all year and do a bit of gambling. And they all want to follow Dermot Weld as he is the master of Ballybrit," says Brendan (38), a parade ring announcer and advertising/marketing manager with 'The Irish Field'.
And those stragglers tagging along with the ladies for the famous fashion bonanza should take heed. Brendan says the male fashion stakes have soared, with many now going the extra furlong to sport colour-co-ordinated ties to match the colour of the best-dressed contender on their arm.
"It is great to watch the capers of everybody. It is like a lead rein competition, the boys are brought along for show and are on the lead for the day with the women. Then they can go and have the fun at night time," says Brendan.
The days are long gone when any old suit dug out of the back of a wardrobe would do, warns the equestrian commentator.
"More and more people realise if they are going racing, they should wear a suit. It is part of the day to get the suit on.
"The amount of people who get new suits for Galway is evident as they often leave the label on the arm," said the dapper dresser, pictured above in his new suit from Brown Thomas.
The five days of the festival, which kicks off on July 29, should be treated just like one of the west coast's gruelling Ironman competitions, as it is endurance and pacing that will see you through.
Brendan warns that a few days pre-training might be required to work up the stamina needed to survive the 10-deep crowds at the racecourse bars and the jam-packed haunts in the city centre. "Get a good breakfast in the morning, drink water and if you want to take a break, go back to the hotel for 40 winks.
"Then try and kick on for the night," he says.
He urges racegoers to take a few moments to pick a spot at the track and watch the world trot by. "I love being down around the parade ring and the betting ring.
"You get to see the horses, there are great exciting scenes after a horse wins, and the champagne bar is also a great place to go into. I'm happy standing anywhere on the racecourse once it's dry," he quips.
Among Brendan's favourite late-night haunts is the famous horse-racing enthusiasts' watering hole, the Hole in the Wall thatched pub on Eyre Street.