Punters hoping for rub of the green at Galway Races
THOUSANDS of punters are set to head West this week, hoping for a flutter of luck as the Galway Races kick off.
The seven-day racing bonanza at Ballybrit racecourse will play host to over 150,000 racing fans with bookies already predicting turnover to exceed last year.
A number of sports stars will also descend on the city for the annual race pilgrimage.
Tonight's main event will be a Sports Heroes evening at the track, where a selection of the country's leading sports stars will be in attendance, including Irish scrum-half Conor Murray and retired international Alan Quinlan.
Ladies fashion will be to the fore come Thursday, when Ladies Day sees women descend on the track in all their glamour.
Celebrity stylist Lisa Fitzpatrick is among those on the judging panel tasked with picking the best dressed. She urged those taking part to think practically and put their own personalities into their outfits.
However, as always the main attractions will be of the four-legged variety as punters hope for a smile from lady luck. The Tote jackpots for each day of racing will be €30,000 today and and tomorrow, €40,000 on Wednesday and Thursday, and €30,000 on Friday, while Saturday and Sunday each have a jackpot of €20,000.
Boylesports announced it is giving odds of four to one on racing legend Dermot Weld training a winner on all seven days of the festival.
The firm said it was expecting a bumper year from the festival.
"Judging by the year so far we are expecting turnover levels to exceed last year's figures, as in the past six months our mobile customers have grown rapidly and continue to grow on a daily basis," said Liam Glynn from Boylesports.
"With results favouring the punters in the last two months, which included an excellent Royal Ascot, Australia winning the Epsom Derby and the domination of Eddie Lynam's Power horses in the valuable sprints, we are expecting punters to have a betting bonanza throughout the week at Ballybrit."
Bus Eireann will operate a regular shuttle bus service from Eyre Square for everyday of the festival, while Irish Rail have added additional trains to their schedule for Wednesday and Thursday of race week.
Punters are advised that children under 12 will be admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult.