Galway Racecourse Guide

Galway, also known as Ballybrit, is one of the premier courses in Ireland and is situated in County Galway; it is an extremely popular venue with Irish racegoers mainly due to its’ week-long summer festival which brings together jumps and flat racing action.

Despite its’ popularity and position as one of the biggest racing venues in the country, Galway hosts only around one dozen racedays in the year, all in the late-summer and seven of them during the Galway Festival. Nevertheless, despite relatively few racedays the course welcomes thousands of racegoers through its’ gates.

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Galway Major Meetings

Without a doubt the Galway Festival - a week-long extravaganza of mixed jumps and flat racing action - takes centre-stage among the fixtures that occur at Ballybrit. The meeting is the longest continuous festival in Ireland at seven days’ duration and features both flat racing and jumps action with the famous Galway Plate being the highlight. 

Other notable races throughout the week at the Galway Festival include the Galway Hurdle and the BMW Mile 

Galway Track Characteristics

The track at Galway is a right-handed oval-shaped except for the home straight, and horses are almost continuously on the turn throughout their races. One circuit of the Galway track is around 1m 3f and the track is undulating throughout.

Considered to have one of the stiffest finishes in Ireland, runners are faced with a relatively easy run for much of the way; but the track also has a downhill run before a sharp bend and rapid ascent into the straight.

The straight at Galway is short at just over one furlong so it is difficult for horses to make a late charge from off the pace and the track rides particularly sharp when the ground is quick, suiting those racing prominently or from the front and a real slog when the ground is on the slow side which can put a horse’s stamina to the test. 

This is true for both flat and jumps races; while over fences the final two obstacles are downhill and situated very close together - the closest in the world - putting real emphasis on a horse’s ability to jump well. 

Galway Draw Bias

There are no sprints at Galway with the shortest distance being around seven furlongs. The stalls for races of this distance are situated close to the first bend, giving an advantage to those drawn low who like to race from or near the front of the pack, especially on quicker ground.

It can be very difficult to make up ground from the rear at Galway, not only because the layout of the track lends itself so well to front-runners, but the punishing finish can often expose any stamina concerns in horses who may find themselves dropping back as their stamina gives out leading to traffic problems for those behind looking to challenge.

Galway Leading Trainers

Willie Mullins is the man to keep onside at Galway with the Closutton maestro boasting a 25% strike-rate with his runners over the past five years; while Dermot Weld often targets the fixture and while his strike-rate is much more modest his runners nevertheless always warrant plenty of respect.

Meanwhile Joseph and Aidan O’Brien both saddle plenty of runners at Galway but it is the latter who boasts a significantly better strike-rate over the past five years despite saddling far fewer runners.

Willie Mullins also tops the charts when it comes to jumps with a 20% strike-rate over the same five-year period, while Gordon Elliott and Noel Meade both also enjoy success at the venue.

Galway Leading Jockeys

On the flat there’s no obvious jockey to side with looking at the past five years although Shane Crosse does boast a fairly modest profit from his wins at Galway, operating at a 17% strike-rate and clearing little over a tenner.

Billy Lee and Shane Foley are also both watching as is Colin Keane although all three trade in the red over the five-year period.

Perhaps unsurprisingly it often pays to stick to the big gun jockeys at Galway with Paul Townend, Davy Russell and Sean Flanagan all enjoying plenty of success although all three trade in the red over the past five years. 

Galway Track History

Racing has been held at Galway since it first opened its’ doors back in 1869; it immediately commanded a 40000-strong crowd on its’ first day. Such was the draw of Galway as a racing venue that the nearby Eyre Square doubled as a camp-site to accommodate racegoers who would arrive days in advance.

The track was the scene for a papal visit with His Holiness Pope John Paul II visiting the racecourse which was packed to the rafters with some 280,000 people. 

Today Galway races sees in excess of 150000 people through the door for its’ week-long festival each year and its’ popularity is set to continue.

Galway Racecourse Address

Ballybrit Racecourse
Co. Galway

Galway Racecourse Directions

By road – The proximity to the M6 motorway means Ballybrit Racecourse is easily accessible by road from anywhere in Ireland.
By bus –On racedays there are shuttlebuses running from Eyre Square to the course.
By rail – Galway is the nearest rail station with the racecourse only about a 15-minute car journey from there.
By air – helicopters can land at Ballybrit if booked to do so in advance, while Aer Arann Connemara Airport, which is less than an hour away handles commercial and public air traffic.