From Saturday next, Listowel Races will host their three-day Summer Racing Festival.
It comprises two days of flat racing followed by a National Hunt finale on the Monday. Traditionally this meeting tied in with Writers Week in Listowel, which is celebrating its 50th year with a virtual programme.
In a show of unity and support for Listowel Writers Week, the race committee has named a selection of races after some of Ireland’s best-known writers, from John B. Keane to Bryan MacMahon. Brenda Daly, secretary of Listowel Races said: “Little did we think that we’d still be racing behind closed doors in June, but here we are. As the reopening has really escalated in recent weeks we remain positive for our Harvest Festival meeting in late September, because we genuinely miss our patrons so much here at Listowel Races.”
A racegoer who always springs to mind when one thinks of Listowel Races is the late John Kierans. He always looked forward to Listowel Races and loved watching the action on the track from his favourite vantage point in the new owners’ bar. The Listowel race committee has named a race in his honour, a most fitting tribute to such a lovely man.
The Summer Racing Festival offers a substantial prize fund of €284,500, and thanks to the continued support of their generous sponsors racing will be most competitive indeed. One such sponsor worth mentioning is John J Galvin, who sponsors the €17,000 chase on the final day of the Festival. This is a classic example of loyal sponsorship in Irish racing at work.
John J Galvin and Sons have been sponsoring at the Harvest Festival meeting at Listowel for years and have also supported this fixture since its inaugural meeting back in 2005. The Galvin family has owned and operated the successful independent drinks distribution company of the same name since 1876, and today John and Breda Galvin are at the helm of the business that predominantly supplies the pub, hotel and restaurant trade in the south west of the country.
Although this industry has been hit harder than most during the pandemic, John J Galvin and Sons has still invested in its sponsorship at Listowel. This is to be highly commended. It is timely that the John J Galvin and Sons race takes place as the company revs up distribution from their warehouse in Listowel.
John serves as a director on the board of Listowel, and his fellow directors and all the staff there wish them every success with the reopening of the hospitality sector.
John J Galvin is a fine example of so many sponsors who have continued to support racing behind closed doors, to whom the entire industry owes a debt of gratitude for continuing to support the thoroughbred racing industry in these difficult times.
From the lass or lad who still takes time to turn her or his horse out like a picture in an effort to win the best turned out prize in the parade ring, the jockeys and trainers for whom racing is their livelihood, to the owner who watches their colours cross the line in front with pride, we are collectively grateful. The activation of sponsorships has been largely curtailed without spectators at our racecourses.
As things reopen, it appears that there is a conscious effort to support local businesses and those hardest hit by the pandemic. The Association of Irish Racecourses and the 26 racecourses that it represents nationwide are encouraging horse racing enthusiasts and The Irish Field readers to please make every effort possible to support our industry sponsors over the weeks and months ahead.
By Leo Powell