Galway Races on track to rein in 150,000
AS thousands of punters head west for the Galway Races, track general manager John Maloney did one final walk-through of the ground.
The action gets under way at the famous Ballybrit course this evening, with up to 150,000 expected to attend the week-long festival.
The first races of today and tomorrow have been brought forward by an hour to 4pm this year to accommodate RTE's coverage of the Olympics.
Last year, 147,000 people passed through the turnstiles, bringing in €5m, and Mr Maloney is predicting an increase this year.
"Early ticket sales are good and they are up slightly on last year," he said.
City businesses are hoping it could bring €60m into the local economy.
This year, for the first time, the races will admit children under-16 for free, if they are accompanied by a guardian.
Mr Maloney said this move and the decision to drop the price of tickets for Wednesday's meeting were to ensure everyone got value for money.
"I think this is a great gesture from the committee.
"It's something that has been raised with us in the past. We took the view that it was the thing to do. We want to make sure that we are giving back to people," he added.
Despite a wet start to last week, sunshine from Wednesday onwards proved a huge boost for the race track.
"The preparation went extremely well and we've had some great weather and that has helped.
"We've had over 200 people on the site getting everything ready. In total, 1,500 people will be employed over the week," said the race track manager.
Race fans can avail of a new taxi route to Ballybrit, and Bus Eireann will provide a service from Eyre Square.