Hearts racing... at Ballybeggan

The Rose of Tralee international Roses at Ballybeggan race course, Tralee.
The Rose of Tralee international Roses at Ballybeggan race course, Tralee.

Simon Brouder

RACING made a triumphant return to Ballybeggan over the weekend as the famous course played host to the Kerry International Horse and Pony Racing Championship.

Thousands of people descended on the track over the course of the two day event, which saw around 50 riders from across Ireland and the UK taking part in 18 action packed races.

Saturday and Sunday's racing marks the first time in six years that festival goers could enjoy a day at the track as part of the Rose of Tralee. The Roses themselves also got in on the action with a group of Roses and escorts visiting the track to mingle with the crowds and place a few bets on Saturday.

Volunteers had been working around the clock to prepare the track, paint the turnstiles, lay shrubs, whitewash the walls and make grand the grandstand for the big equestrian event in Tralee. Their efforts paid off as the track which has been used on only a handful of occasions in recent years was looking fantastic as Racing got underway on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday was ladies day and the prize for the best dressed lady on the day went to Breda Brosnan from Knocknagoshel. Sunday was also billed as family day with a whole host of activities organised for children to enjoy as their parents enjoyed the racing.

The CEO of Tralee Chamber Alliance, Kieran Ruttledge welcomed the return of racing to the festival.

"Horse racing and the Rose of Tralee International Festival go hand-in-glove as the Festival was originally established in 1959 with a view to boosting attendances at the horse racing while attracting tourists. This year's revival of the sport in Tralee during August proved to be a great spectacle."