Race is on for Galway festival with 150,000 punters set to go west
Racegoers are out of the traps for Galway Races and demand is so great there are already waiting lists for some of the corporate hospitality areas.
An estimated 150,000 people are expected to make the annual pilgrimage west to have a flutter.
And as proof that Irish people really are splashing the cash again after years of hardship, there are lists for some of the corporate hospitality areas, where tickets cost €375 a head on Ladies' Day.
Galway Races committee chairperson Peter Allen said demand for tickets has been significant weeks ahead of the event.
"There's certainly been a pick-up in the economy and we've seen it in Galway," he said. "Our corporate hospitality is sold out for the first six days of the races, four weeks before it starts. Saturday hasn't sold out ever before so there are waiting lists now for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. So it's a good position to be in, but you never take anything for granted."
Kicking off on Monday, July 31, this year's festival features total prize money of more than €2m and is worth an estimated €54m to the local economy. Each day there's a feature race worth €100,000 in addition to the two main races of the week, the Guinness Galway Hurdle worth €300,000, and the Tote.com Galway Plate on Wednesday, worth €250,000.
Helping to judge this year's g Hotel Best Dressed Lady on Thursday, August 3, are 'Dancing with the Stars' finalist Aoibhin Garrihy and TV presenter Baz Ashmawy.
Aoibhin said the fashion event always reminds her of the Mad Hatter's tea party in 'Alice In Wonderland'.
"It's just really vibrant and colourful. You can get everything and anything," said Aoibhin, joined at yesterday's launch by stylist Marietta Doran and milliner Edel Ramberg.
RTÉ star Baz will also be helping pick a worthy winner.
"I've been judging ladies for years in my head. Now I'll have a reason to do it," he joked.