Galway Races: Day two sees RTÉ annual summer jaunt out west
DAY two of the Galway Races and that can only mean one thing – the RTÉ annual summer jaunt out west.
The canteen at Montrose must surely have been a desolate place as many of its big-name stars hit the M4 to make the yearly pilgrimage to Ballybrit to soak up some festival fun.
Astonished visitors looked on as a clatter of stars - including Miriam O’Callaghan, Dave Fanning, Marty Morrissey, Ryan Tubridy, Evanne Ní Chuilinn and Jacqui Hurley - suddenly descended en masse on the Connacht Hotel on the Old Dublin Road for a quick check-in before hitting the track.
And it’s good to see, despite all his years in broadcasting, Sean O’Rourke has no highfalutin ways when it comes to his choice of holidays.
“We’re going around Ireland in a motorhome. We borrowed one from a friend and the radio is broken in it as well which is great,” he said.
“It’s parked out the back of the hotel. We started in Wexford last week and literally make it up as we go along.”
Asked to describe what helped the event stand the test of time, he said it was all down to the thrilling pace, both on and off the track.
“I always love to be in the same place for one race, just down a little past the stand in front of the parade ring. You can hear the hooves, you can hear the clatter and the real danger that the riders particularly put themselves in,” he said.
There’s no sign of him slowing down either. When asked about his looming 65th birthday, which often signals retirement from Montrose for his colleagues, he said it was “the furthest thing from my mind”.
“I am as happy in my work as I have ever been. I think I am just coming off one of the best years we have ever had, for me personally and for the programme, so that’s how it is,” he said.
Miriam O’Callaghan has been filling in for him while he enjoys his summer break but was keeping mum when quizzed about a permanent slot on the Radio One weekday schedule. “It’s just fun, I enjoy it. He’s brilliant in his job and I love my Sunday show but I’m really happy to stand in for him during the summer. I love it,” she said.
Also making the most of his time off was Ryan Tubridy, who said he had a “natural affinity” with Galway, given that his father’s from Oranmore.
“I’d love to bring the ‘Late Late’ here some night here in the new season if they’d let me,” he told independent.ie.
At the track, the party was in full swing as racing fans enjoyed some scattered sunshine for the second day.
Paddy Power held its annual Zorbing Derby which saw Kerry All-Star Aidan O’Mahony trying to clock up another victory.
But he was well beaten by local hero Ollie Canning in the novelty race.
For others, it was the chance to make a ‘Fast Buck’, with the aptly-named mount giving Willie Mullins a strong start to the day.
The feature race, the Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap, went to Saltonstall, piloted by Colin Keane in a thrilling race.