Friday 19 January 2018

Shore, aren't we having a great time? Punters have fun in spades at the races

Reuben Stafford (4), from Laytown, gets into the spirit of things
Reuben Stafford (4), from Laytown, gets into the spirit of things

Sam Griffin

OVER the past 150 years there has always been plenty of sand at the Laytown Races, but scarcely so much sunshine.

A massive crowd of excited punters lapped up the action and the good weather on the beach in Co Meath last night.

It's an oft-repeated phrase that the Laytown Races, which first took to the sands in 1868 and became an annual event in 1901, are the only regulation races run over sand.

"It takes an awful lot of organising to get everything right for the day. The marquees and temporary buildings around the enclosure are put up during the week but all the railings and the Chester Fencing could only go up the morning of the races," explained event organiser Joe Collins.

Around 4,200 paying public attempted to outfox the bookies. Punters fanned out right across the race camp exchanging tips and telling tales of their winnings.

"Four years ago, I was here when Enigma Code, who won the first race today, was racing. I decided to put €20 on him and of course he came dead last," explained Mohammed Ibrahim, originally from the United Arab Emirates but now living in Laytown.

"Since then, I've been cursing him but when I saw him today, I thought about going for him. My neighbour Tony convinced me not to, and I didn't, and he's after winning today.

"Thankfully Tony gave me a tip for Captain May in the second – who has just won – so I'll be putting those winnings in the charity box."

In the past, races at Laytown were far more gruelling affairs – for punters and horses alike.

One race in particular was a harrowing two-mile long endeavour. Now the six races on the card are all straight runs of either six or seven furlongs – just under a mile in layman's terms.

Among those present were some of the biggest names in Irish racing, including Ruby Walsh, his sister Katie and Nina Carberry, the evening's most popular winner. She came home first in the final race of the day thanks to a photo-finish.

"The Laytown Races are always a great spectacle. I've had great luck here," she told the Irish Independent.

Irish Independent

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