Ballyheigue resplendent for Races

50th anniversary meeting of the seaside races goes down a storm amid huge crowds

Ernest Tiner and Raymond Sugrue from Tralee enjoying the camaraderie of the occasion
Ernest Tiner and Raymond Sugrue from Tralee enjoying the camaraderie of the occasion
Young local jockey Dylan O’Connor (10) looking every inch the horseman he is with his trusty steed
Dylan O’Connor, Conor Walsh, Darragh O'Sullivan and Ava Sugrue. Photos: Domnick Walsh
Brothers Sean and Darragh O’Sullivan keeping a close eye on the action in Ballyheigue on Saturday
A scene from the Ballyheigue beach races

Stephen Fernane

While it's fair to say venues like Leopardstown, Limerick and Down Royal hog most of the attention when it comes to Christmas racing, Ballyheigue Races is a match for any of them in terms of its own unique atmosphere and excitement.

Record crowds turned out to enjoy two memorable days of action celebrating the 50th anniversary of Ballyheigue Races on Saturday and Sunday last.

It's true that tide waits for no man. However, its absence is made full use of every year as horses from all over Ireland converge on the seaside village to compete in one of Ireland's most famous flapper meetings.

Over 800 people attended Saturday's action as County Antrim jockey Sam Ewing rode a treble. Listowel's Jackie Mulvihill had his first win in the horse and pony circuit.

Day two brought with it over 1,000 people to Ballyheigue as the spectators lined the promenade to see Jackie Mulvihill notch his second win of the meeting with Sam Ewing adding two more to his treble on day one.

There was plenty of fashion on show too with Bosco McMahon and Marie Stack picking up best dressed man and woman at the races.

"The meeting exceeded our expectations as we enjoyed record crowds this year," said Joint Secretary of Ballyheigue Race Committee, Liam O'Mahony.

"It's part of our tradition now and we've brought in some new and younger members to the committee who have really worked hard at helping to continue the tradition. 

"Even our sponsorship has been great this year and we thank all of them. We're delighted with how it went and the feedback has been very positive. As always, it is an atmosphere to savour and the beach promenade even serves as a stand for the people to enjoy the races," he said.