Mike Quigley

Irish horse racing, betting and other stuff

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 Who is going to the races?



Leopardstown and Galway July 2018


I’m becoming a creature of habit in my old age. This was the fifth consecutive year I’ve completed this particular double although I’d been to Galway races many times before including trips via Galway airport (which surprisingly closed in 2011). 

If I go next year I plan to give the Dublin leg a swerve and take a flight to Shannon followed by the near two-hour bus ride (for about 10 euro) to Galway City.


Leopardstown races Thursday 26 July, entrance 20 euro (seniors 10 euro)


Everyone will know this is the easiest “Dublin” track to access with a short Luas ride followed by a shuttle bus from Sandyford.


This fixture was sponsored by Bulmers as part of their live music evenings that have been running on selected Thursdays through June-August for a number of years. It was a poor card from my perspective (although boasting two group threes for the purists). The 61 runners across seven races resulted in only two handicaps, my preferred betting medium. I had my only bet of the night in the 11-runner mile contest. Having recently amended one of my ten golden rules - restricting my bets to horses 3/1 or bigger (up from 2/1) - I immediately broke this rule by taking some 11/4 about the favourite Raphael. It was headed 150 yards out finishing second at 9/4. Very foolish! I didn’t stay after racing for Keywest, not my scene. Would have made the effort for the Waterboys but I was here the wrong week!


The attendance was 5,489 swelled significantly by the concert crowd. Did some racegoers stay away because of the small fields or because of the concert goers? Certainly there seemed little interest from the latter in the racing.


Contrast this with the Dublin Racing Festival introduced at Leopardstown in February. Around 25,000 attended the two-day fixture. Of course, by definition, you can’t have top class racing every day. In 2019 there will be a clash with the Ireland v England six-nations match on 2 February. Aside from a rule I have (!) not to go to Ireland in January/February (weather risk) I shall not be going to this as flights and hotel rooms will be at vastly inflated prices because of the rugby.


Galway races 30/31 July, entrance 25 euro (seniors 15 euro)


Despite the general industry downturn in attendances, this festival is holding up OK. On the first day over 20,000 attended (up on 2017). No after racing concert but various musicians around the track added to the atmosphere. The first two days although the quietest are in my view the best. The attendances would rise later in the week with higher profile races on offer as well as the incentive of ladies’ day on Thursday. As the week progresses, I think you can argue that an increasing percentage of the audience are not particularly interested in the racing. However I’ve always thought there is generally more affinity with the horses/racing in Ireland compared to the UK.


As for the punting it was not to prove the betting bonanza it had been for the previous couple of years. In particular the two 7f handicaps, our speciality, were a disappointment although the third choice pick on day one, Premier League, was backed from 14/1 to 5/1 favourite and won easily recovering some stakes. (We had to wait until Sunday for a first choice 7f draw-bias selection to oblige - Safe Voyage from the two box).


One decent price winner each day kept losses to an acceptable level however. We convinced ourselves to back Mullins’ third string Uradel on Monday, ridden by the same amateur that won the race in 2017. It won @ 12/1 (14.20 tote).


Close home Uradel gets the better of the Mullins’ hot favourite Limini

On the Tuesday I came up with St Gallen, trading at 20/1 in the ring (50.00 tote) shortly before the off. It was gambled into 12/1 and won comfortably. I was rather disappointed with my 14.70 tote dividend.

All in all a wonderful five nights in the city with theatre, music and great seafood restaurants enhancing the experience.

Mike Quigley

(August 2018)