Monday 11 December 2017

Galway bookies clean up with €1.4m take on opening day

Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

THOUSANDS of punters were this afternoon braving miserable weather to attend the second day of the Galway Races.

Yesterday's sunshine saw a surge in numbers for the opening day of the festival. Close to 18,000 enjoyed the day's racing with the warm weather and clear skies adding to the party atmosphere.

The extra boost also saw a surge for the bookmakers. They were left smiling after taking in an impressive €1.4m over the course of the day, a rise on last year's figures. The Tote also took in almost €600,000.

Racing kicks off at 4pm today, an earlier start than previous years to accommodate the Olympics coverage. The feature event of the day is the Topaz Mile race.

Sports stars were out in force for the opening day at Ballybrit yesterday including Ireland soccer international and Wolves star Stephen Hunt, who joked that he was “under strict instructions to wear my best gear” .

Connacht rugby captain Gavin Duffy, Munster legend David Wallace and Leinster's Eoin Reddan also enjoyed the opening day at the festival.

David Wallace revealed how he was loving his free time since retiring from the sport in May of this year.

“I'm really appreciating the time and with family it's good to have your weekends free and give a little back to them because of the amount of times you are away and you don't have time to spend with them so it's good now to have it,” he said.

He added that he was now concentrating on a number of business options and enjoying the local festivals along with wife Aileen and sons Andrew and Harvey.

“I suppose I'm trying to get a couple of things started business wise and as I said spending it with my family as well. And going to events like this and the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway a couple of weeks ago. It's little things like this where previously you had to give up all those things and even if you did make it out there for an hour or two you can't have a drink,” he said.

“My wife is very happy. She's had to give up a lot as well. She can't really be going to this things and enjoying herself when I'm dragging her off at 12 o'clock,” he added.

Headford's Aoife Kenny won the title of most appropriately dressed lady in a fitted red dress with black trim, red hat and red shoes, judged by Galway miliner Suzie Mahony and TV3's Noel Cunningham.

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