For any readers considering a racing break to the west, Ballinrobe is a must on your itinerary. With three National Hunt meetings coming up in quick succession, now is a great time to plan a visit.
They race on Monday, August 9th from 4.45pm, Monday, August 23rd from 4.40pm, and Friday, September 10th with a slightly earlier start time of 3.55pm.
Ballinrobe Racecourse is ideally situated a mile from the town centre, and this natural amphitheatre has all you could ask for in a country racecourse; beautiful setting, lively atmosphere and the laidback relaxed attitude that Ireland is famous for. Add to the mix some wonderful horses, the heart and soul of the industry and the charming rustic feel of the racecourse itself, and a visit to Ballinrobe becomes even more appealing.
A favourite for many top racing stars, it has hosted Tiger Roll who had his first win over fences in May 2016, Doran’s Pride who still holds such a special place in the hearts of so many and who won his first race at Ballinrobe in 1993, and Wicklow Brave, the 2016 Irish St Leger winner made a winning appearance there in 2019.
Praise for the ground conditions and attention to detail at Ballinrobe is regularly heard amongst the industry and patrons, and manager John Flannelly was quick to attribute that to his ground staff and the entire team at Ballinrobe who strive for continuous improvement and excellence in all they do. He commented: “We are so fortunate to have a very hardworking committee and staff to support us, especially the lads on the track. They are top-class and do a fantastic job.”
Speaking of ‘the team’ at Ballinrobe, the core staff is quite remarkable as it is very much a family affair. Led by John Flannelly who has been racecourse manager at Ballinrobe for over two decades, he is supported by his wife Anne who is the office manager. Their daughter Claire looks after the digital marketing aspect of the business, managing the website, social media and the likes.
Outdoors, John’s son Cathal is the track manager and is an exceptionally talented groundsman. He previously served his time at Cheltenham and Leopardstown to hone his skills. He also has a wonderful team that work with him to ensure the quality and consistency of the surface exceeds expectations when entries are declared.
Johnny, the youngest of the family, is studying Ag Science at UCD and he has been busy helping Cathal and the groundsmen on the track all summer. Niamh, who recently returned from New Zealand, immediately rolled up her sleeves and got back to work doing her bit to help out. This family affair has served the course and its patrons extremely well over the years.
Speaking of the benefits of having your own family work in the business with you, John said: “It’s great to have them all involved. You just know we’re all on the same page and they will get the job done, whatever it takes, and we all enjoy it and are passionate about it which is most important. We work hard to deliver for our valued patrons and supporters.”
He continued, “We are so very grateful to our loyal sponsors who have stuck with us during the pandemic; their unwavering support and continued goodwill is most appreciated. We look forward to maximising the benefits of their sponsorships at Ballinrobe even more now that restrictions are easing and some sense of normality is resuming once again.”
To stay up to date with all that is happening at the racecourse, visit Ballinroberacecourse.ie and follow them on social media.
By Leo Powell.