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A couple of cowboys photographed during Ladies Day at the Galway Races Ladies Day. Photograph by John Kelly.

All set for bumper week at the Galway Races

Champion Chatter

With just over four weeks to go to the start of Galway’s 2022 Summer Festival, preparations are continuing apace in Ballybrit for what looks set to be a bumper week.

Thankfully, things are back to normal now and the week-long meeting – that runs from Monday, July 25th to Sunday, July 31st – can look forward to big crowds and record prize money.

This year’s Galway Summer Festival has a total prize fund of €2.164 million – representing an increase of €346,500 on 2021.

Each day offers a minimum prize of €100,000 for the feature race, with the minimum value for any race at Ballybrit now standing at €17,000.

Galway offers a mixed card for the week with National Hunt and Flat races being held on all seven days.

The flagship Tote Galway Plate is one of the highlights of the week. This mid-summer showpiece now carries a purse of €270,000 (up €20,000 from last year) and it looks set to be a cracking race.

Galway’s Thursday’s feature is the Guinness Galway Hurdle which also now also carries a prize fund of €270,000.

Over the years in Galway the emphasis has very firmly been on improving the raceday experience for those in attendance. This year racegoers will see lots of new additions to the enclosure including new bars, a new enclosure layout, additional covered marquess and public seating, plus the addition of a new Parade Ring Lounge.

Speaking at the launch of the 2022 Galway Summer Festival held recently at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Chairman Of Galway Race Committee, Anthony Ryan, said: “Having supported the local community for the last two years, we are delighted to be back presenting our iconic world-famous Galway Races Summer Festival.

“This July the team in Ballybrit are gearing up for a very special week and a much-welcomed return of all our racegoers to the West of Ireland racetrack.”

Galway Races contributes over €54 million to the local economy each year. Advance ticket sales for 2022 are proving very strong – pacing well ahead of 2019 figures.

To celebrate the return of their full festival and to thank customers for their support over the last few years, Galway Races have a special offer on general admission tickets with €5 off each ticket up to the day of the race meeting, plus a new €70 three-day bundle ticket and a new flexi-ticket offer which are all available to buy online via

Keane steers Westover to glory

Colin Keane added the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby to his glittering CV when guiding 11/8 joint-favourite, Westover, to victory in this year’s renewal at the Curragh on Saturday.

The 27-year-old won his third Irish Jockeys’ championship last season – he rode 58 winners more than his nearest rival – and is now regarded as one of the top riders in the business.
Owned by Juddmonte, Westover is trained in England by Ralph Beckett.

Saturday was Keane’s first time to sit on the son of Frankel, with his owners opting replace the horse’s regular partner Rob Hornby on the basis that the Irish Champion held more ‘local’ knowledge of the Curragh.

In the end it didn’t really matter as Westover proved to be the best horse in the race by a country mile.

Always in the front rank, Westover eased ahead just over two furlongs out. This €1,000,000 contest was swiftly decided as Keane’s mount stretched effortlessly clear in the final stages to slam Donnacha O’Brien’s Piz Badile by seven lengths.

French Claim was a further two lengths back in third, with Aidan O’Brien’s sole runner in Ireland’s premier Classic, Tuesday, back in fourth.

Keane – who is a son of Trim, County Meath trainer Ger Keane – revealed: “He was a bit fresh over the first furlong but once he tucked in behind another horse he gave me a beautiful ride. He is a monster of a horse and will only get better next season.

“Fair dues to Rob Hornby. I rang him this morning and he told me everything I needed to know about the horse – he’s a real gentleman. He said Westover gets the trip well and not to be afraid to make plenty use of him.

“I’m very grateful to the owners – the Juddmonte family – they have been great supporters of ours since sending horses to us in Ger Lyons’ stable. I’m very thankful that they put faith in me
to ride this horse.”

Winning trainer Beckett – who spent some time in Ireland in the past working for Naas trainer Arthur Moore – said: “Colin was positive on him from the start and took the bull by the horns. You have to on these big occasions and Colin certainly did that.

“I never felt he was going to stop once he got into his stride and he’s a big horse who is really a work in progress. He has a wonderful temperament and he’s going to get better with age.

“He is entered in the King George at Ascot and that race is certainly an option for him. We’ll discuss it with the owners and see what we do next. He is not ground dependent, which is important, so we can go where we like once we are happy with the horse.”

About Michael Duggan

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