After a two-year break caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Dingle Races is back on track this weekend to reclaim its position as the great annual gathering for west Kerry people from far and near.
Up to early July doubt hung over this year’s races because of the inordinate difficulty the race company faced in getting insurance. However, that problem has been overcome and Dingle Race Company Chairman Colm Sayers said everything is good to go and there’s even a decent weather forecast for the weekend.
The retro-style poster advertising this year’s races gives a nod to the past and Colm said the theme will be continued at the course in Ballintaggart where it is planned to have more of the fairground attractions and stalls, selling anything from sweets to boots, which added to the character of Dingle Races in the past.
“A lot of those attractions died out in recent years but we’re trying to bring it back to what it used to be make a day at the races more appealing to families,” said Colm.
The races will get underway with the Friday evening meeting, which starts at 4pm and gives an insight into the form for the following two days of racing. Horses and ponies from throughout Ireland as well as Scotland and Wales are entered and it is thought that there will also be some entries from England, although these have not yet been confirmed.
Racing on Saturday and Sunday will start at 2.30pm and there are eight races on the card for each of the three days of the meeting. However, as has happened in previous years, it is likely that some races will be divided into two heats to accommodate high numbers of entries.
Sunday is the big day with the Dingle Derby providing the highlight of the racing weekend but there will also be side events such as a contest for the best dressed lady, gent and mother & daughter, which gives people encouragement to dress up for the occasion.
After two Covid years that impacted heavily on local businesses, the race company was very concerned that it would be difficult to raise vital sponsorship, but things have turned out better than anticipated.
“Local businesses have been very loyal and even after two tough years they still came up with the support the races needed,” said Colm. He said the race company was also very grateful to the farmers and others who provide stabling for horses and to the many locals who are unwavering in their support for the races.
Parking will be provided in the racecourse and on the roadside opposite the Mail Road entrance to the field. There will also be a shuttle bus running between Dingle and Ballintaggart; it costs €2 and can be hailed down anywhere.