It would be easier to get a ticket for Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory than get into Galway Races next week.

Just 1,000 spectators will be allowed into Ballybrit on each of the seven days of racing, which starts on Monday (26 July). This is in addition to trainers, jockeys, racehorse owners and administrative staff, bringing the total on-site each day to around 2,000.

Much has been written about how this low figure compares to the crowds seen at major GAA matches recently, but that’s the hand racing has been dealt.

Apparently the health experts don’t like the fact that racegoers are constantly mingling, as opposed to staying in their seats when at a match.

Every single hotel room in Galway is booked out next week and one imagines that the hotels will be filling their ballrooms and restaurants with giant television screens for their guests who want to follow the racing. Surely it would have been safer to let them spend those hours outdoors at the track itself?

The €25 tickets were snapped up quickly and they are non-transferable so beware if someone offers to sell you one. Each ticket has the purchaser’s name on it and matching identification must be shown at the turnstile.

Racegoers won’t be allowed enter any of the racecourse buildings so lets hope no large downpour arrives. Facemasks must be worn at all times too – unless you’re supping a pint from a plastic cup.

With precious little craic promised, maybe we are better off watching from home again this year. The first four days will be broadcast by RTÉ and the action on Friday and Sunday will be shown on TG4.

Galway races highlights


6.15: Connacht Hotel QR Handicap: Willie Mullins has 13 of the 43 entries and almost any of them could win. Burning Victory, Dark Voyager and MC Muldoon look three of his best. It won’t be easy for Patrick Mullins to pick the right one to ride.


6.15: Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap: Joseph O’Brien has a strong hand here, headed by recent winners Emphatic Dream and Mazagran, while his dad Aidan could run the improving Horoscope. A few others to note are Longbourne (Ross O’Sullivan), Soaring Monarch (Peter Fahey) and last year’s fourth Tauram Shaman (Jessica Harrington).


6.15: Tote Galway Plate Handicap Chase: Tiger Roll was the surprise entry and has been given a chance at the weights. However, this is a very different test to the marathons he wins at Aintree or Cheltenham. Look no further than last year’s runner-up Royal Rendezvous, who has been lightly raced in the past 12 months, no doubt with this in mind.


6.15: Guinness Galway Handicap Hurdle: A high-class race these days, as it should be with €150,000 to the winner. There are so many top-quality horses that Shark Hanlon’s Grade 1 winner Skyace only has 10st 9lb. British raider Copperless is on the same mark and could go close. We’ll take a chance on Belfast Banter, who amazed with Cheltenham and Aintree wins.