Day one opens with a bang across both racing codes as the Galway Bay Hotel Novice Hurdle gets us underway. The Easyfix Handicap Hurdle follows before focus switches to the flat for a couple of 7f sprints – the Claregalwayhotel EBF Maiden and the Claytonhotel Galway Handicap.
The main feature of the day, the Connacht Hotel Handicap, won last year by Willie Mullins’ Whiskey Sour, will once again be hotly-contested. This renewal is headlined by some flashy entries – Limini, Meri Devie and Joey Sasa. The day comes to a close courtesy of two flat contests – the Eventus Handicap and the McGettigan’s Flat Race.
The second day of the festival gets underway at 17.20pm on Tuesday with the Colm Quinn BMW Novice Hurdle, before attention turns to the Latin Quarter Steeplechase.
The Colm Quinn BMW EBF Fillies’ Maiden and the Caulfieldindustrial EBF Maiden whet the appetite just before the day’s main feature – the Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap – with €120,000 on the line. Riven Light carries top weight for Willie Mullins, while Ger Lyons’ Inscribe and AP O’Brien’s Bond Street lead the betting at present.
Galway Plate day comes to you on the Wednesday of the festival – opening with a fantastic run of hurdle races to get us underway. The Tote Maiden Hurdle, Tote Handicap Hurdle and Tpte EBF Mares’ Handicap Hurdle will get the pulses racing, before the Tote QR Maiden sets the table nicely for one of the biggest contests in Irish racing – The Galway Plate.
The feature can boast some legendary winners such as Carlingford Lough and Road To Riches in the past, and Tully East (NAP) looks a solid favourite in this renewal. The day finishes with the Win Big With Tote Handicap and the Tote.com Handicap.
Ladies Day is one of the best social events of the Irish calendar year and certainly has quality racing to match. The Guinness Galway Gold Beginners Chase is set for a 13.40 start, before the Open Gate Brewery Novice Chase and the Rockshore Handicap.
The Arthur Guinness EBF Corrib Fillies Stakes gets underway at 15.25 before the Guinness Novice Hurdle (16.00) sets the stage for the day’s feature – the Guinness Galway Handicap Hurdle – headlined by a former festival winner in Whiskey Sour should he run. He will be tackled by a former Cheltenham Triumph Hurdle winner in Ivanovich Gorbatov and Sharjah. The Open Gate Pure Brew Handicap and the Good Time For A Guinness Flat Race finish out the day.
Friday features seven very competitive races – beginning with the Guinness Handicap Hurdle and the James’s Gate Maiden. Focus switches to bigger obstacles for the Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase before the day’s feature race – the Guinness Handicap.
Willie Mullins’ versatile sort Whiskey Sour doubled up his festival accolades last year when he won this race after also landing a previous a few days beforehand – an incredible feat for both horse and trainer at Ballybrit. The day finishes out with the Guinness EBF Fillies’ Maiden, the Arthur Guinness Handicap and the Rockshore Race.
‘Super Saturday’ is usually a terrific day out for families who can be treated to a host of hotly-contested races. The eight-race card begins at 14:00 with the Betway Irish Maiden, followed by the Betway Maiden, the Betway Nursery Handicap and the Ardilaun Hotel Handicap. The latter was won in good style by Bubbly Bellini last year.
The McDonagh Capital Investments Handicap kicks off at 16.10, while the Galway Shopping Centre Handicap Hurdle (16.45) could well be the highlight of the day. The O’Leary Insurances Maiden Hurdle and the Galway Shopping Centre Mares’ Flat Race round off the penultimate day of the festival.
The final day of the festival usually caps off a terrific week of racing but has plenty of merit in its own right. Jam-packed with eight races, we get underway at 14.15 for the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle before the Kenny Galway Handicap Hurdle (won in impressive fashion by Ben Button last year) and the Foran Equine Maiden.
Two cracking chases headline the final day – the SCL Chase and the Lord Hemphill Memorial Handicap Chase. The former was won in good style by Arbre De Vie while the latter was taken by R P Treacy aboard Neverushacon last year. The JPK Fencing Handicap and the Fr. Breen Memorial Flat Race close out the festival.