The Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR) column this week focuses on Laytown Races, as anticipation builds ahead of their upcoming once a year meeting on Tuesday, September 12th, and we have news of a free gate at Roscommon on Monday.
Laytown is always a special occasion as racing takes place on the sand. In fact, it holds a unique position in the Irish racing calendar, as the only horseracing event run on a beach under the rules of racing. The meeting always attracts massive crowds of intrigued spectators, as well as many locals, and committed horseracing enthusiasts.
As the tide recedes on the morning of race day, the racecourse must be set up quickly to allow for six races to be staged, all run over six and seven furlongs. A recent launch event was held at Gilna’s The Cottage Inn, where renowned commentator Des Scahill was master of ceremonies for the evening. Dessie brought a mix of his impeccable racing knowledge and unique sense of humour to proceedings, much to the delight of those in attendance.
The evening began with a few words from the new racecourse secretary/manager Jessica Cahalan, and she was followed by Joe Collins, chairman of the Laytown Race Committee. Afterwards there was the eagerly anticipated draw for the Pride of Place Maiden Race on Tuesday week’s card. That race, introduced at the 2019 meeting, is now a popular feature of the day, and a big part of the overall build up to the main event.
The draw randomly allocates local housing estates and residential areas with a horse in the race – a maximum of 10 horses will run. The groups representing the first, second and third horses past the post will win €500, €400 and €300 garden centre vouchers, sponsored by the Laytown Races Committee, for their particular estate or residential area. The vouchers can be used by residents to enhance their estate or Laytown village with plants, flowers, or trees. Representatives of the winning resident’s group will be invited into the parade ring for a special presentation after the race.
Along with the large turnout of local people, the launch was attended by members of the Laytown Races Committee, Lynda Reilly of Tote Ireland, Meath Co Council Cathaoirleach, Stephen McKee, along with councillors Sharon Tolan, Elaine McGinty and Tom Behan.
Joe Collins said: “We were thrilled with the turnout for the launch of this year’s ever-popular Laytown Races. There was a wonderful atmosphere and sense of camaraderie, along with a good dose of light-hearted competitiveness among the 20 local housing estates, most notably when South Shore were drawn again this year. They are looking for a hat-trick, having won the race twice already.”
A food court area will be available at the seaside track, with an upgraded food and beverage offering and a seating area. An added bonus is a jazz band, to sit back and enjoy throughout the evening, followed by live music in the bar after the third race. For the little ones, there will be face painting and a balloon artist.
Tote Ireland is introducing a new activation zone, while free shuttle buses to and from the various car parks around Laytown will be provided for racegoers as usual. To purchase tickets visit laytownstrandraces.ie
Roscommon free admission
‘Be our guest’ is the byword from organisers t Roscommon Racecourse, as they open their gates free of charge on Monday, September 4th, and this comes with the compliments of the Irish National Professional Bookmakers Association. The first race on the card goes to post at 4pm.