How to Bet on the Galway Summer Festival | LeoVegas Sports

Galway Summer Festival Guide

The Galway Summer Festival isn’t just another festival of racing taking place in Ireland during the summer. It’s the summer festival of racing. Unusually for a racing festival, it includes both jumps and flat races at the same meeting.

It’s the longest festival on Irish soil, lasting a full week. And it boasts some of the best racing of the Irish summer with the featured races featuring some of the finest horses in the business.

But there’s certainly a lot more to it than just the racing, the betting and the action on the course.

As we’re about to find out.

Horse Racing Summer Festival in Galway Overview

It all gets under way on Monday 31st July 2023. On Monday, Tuesday 1st August and Wednesday 2nd, the turnstiles open at 2.30pm local time with the first race at 5.10pm and the last at 8.20pm.

Each of those three days will have seven races run on them. Wednesday is the day for one of the most famous races of the Festival, with the Tote Galway Plate taking place.

Come Thursday and the action starts a bit earlier (turnstiles open 11.15am, first race is at 2.10pm) on what is known as ‘Ladies Day’.

Off the course, it’s all about fashion with some serious cash prizes on offer for ‘Best Dressed Lady’ and ‘Best Hat’.

On the course, the first of the eight national hunt races of the Galway summer festival horse races kick off the day’s racing (The Guinness Beginners Steeplechase). But it’s the 5.05pm Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap that’s the biggest race of the day, one of eight on Thursday.

Come Friday and though the number of races stays the same (eight), they start at the later time of 5.00pm and the action carries on until 8.40pm.

It’s the first day of the Bank Holiday weekend and a prize is on offer for ‘Friday’s Most Stylish’. The whole card is sponsored by Guinness, and we bet a few of those will be downed over the course of the day.

There’s a change to the times of the first (1.55pm) and last (5.55pm) races of the day on Saturday where all eight races are run on the flat.

Come Sunday and they’re ‘doing it for the kids’ on what is the summer Festival of Galway’s family day, also known as Mad Hatters Day.

But though there might be over 20 different children’s activities off the track, there’s still some serious business on it, with eight races taking place to round things off for the week.

First race is at 1.50pm and the last of the day and the Festival itself, is at 5.30pm.

Aside from the racing, fashion, cash prizes for the public, Guinness and great food, there’s also no shortage of live music for the 2023 edition.

That includes performances from the likes of Piano Man Barry Ryan, DJ Doc, the Galway Tenors and the appropriately named band: The Gamblers!


Galway Summer Festival Races

There are 50 races taking place over the week and though each is important in its own right, these two are just that little bit more high-profile and important than the rest…

The Tote Galway Plate – Wednesday August 2nd 6.40pm

A National Hunt Chase handicap Grade A race open to horses four years or older and run over 2 miles and six furlongs, with fourteen fences to jump.

The only horse to have won it on three separate occasions is the very Irish-named Tipperary Boy (1899, 1901 and 1902) while Dermot Weld is the only trainer to have won it four times.

The 2022 edition was won by Hewick, who went off as a 16/1 outsider.

The Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap – Thursday August 3rd 5.05pm

Also open to horses four years or older, it’s also a handicap race but this time run over two miles and 11 years; it also has fewer fences to jump, just nine this time. It was first run in 1913.

In 2018 it was won by the brilliant three-time Grade 1 winner Sharjah, who went on to win the Morgiana and Ryanair Hurdle later that year.

There was an interesting quirk regarding last year’s winner Tudor City, who won at 22/1 to beat the well-backed Jesse Evans; Tudor City had first won the race back in 2019 and was 10 years old when he completed the double in it! A real veteran’s effort!


A brief history of the Galway summer festival horse races

The Summer Festival in Galway takes place at the Ballybrit Racecourse (in Galway) and has been since 1869.

For the first 90 editions, it was only ever a two-day event, its first-ever race held on Tuesday August 17, 1869.

In 1959 it was increased to three days of racing, in 1971 it was further extended to four days and then in 1974 it became a five-day event.

In 1982 they added a sixth day to it and finally, in 1999, it reached its current length of seven days, which as we know, is the format that we’ll be having in 2023 and beyond that, until further notice.

Given it’s such an old and traditional festival, it’s perhaps no surprise that a few editions over the years had stand-out incidents and events that were specific to a particular year.

Papal visit and 25th year anniversary celebration of it

There have been plenty of VIPs, plus local and international celebrities attending the Galway summer festival races over the decades.

But perhaps no presence caught more headlines than when none other than His Holiness Pope John Paul II visited it during the 1979 edition, more precisely on the 30th of September.

An estimated 280,000 people made a point of attending, which included 77 concelebrants, 200,000 communicants, 800 priests distributing communion and 4,000 stewards making sure everything ran smoothly, which it did!

The Covid factor

In April 2020 the Galway Race Committee announced that the 2020 edition would go ahead in terms of racing despite the Covid-19 pandemic that was sweeping the world but would go ahead behind closed doors; in other words, without spectators.

Still recovering from the effects of the pandemic, the 2021 edition wasn’t held behind closed doors but was limited to just 1,000 (lucky) spectators a day.

By 2022, it was business as usual with over 130,000 people estimated to have attended it.

LeoVegas the home of the Galway Summer Festival

So that’s what you need to know about the Galway summer festival races, in a nutshell.

The only thing left to tell you is that LeoVegas will be offering several betting markets on all 50-odd races over the course of the week.

And all of them with the Best Odds Guaranteed promise, meaning you’ll always get paid out at the biggest odds on every winner you pick: either the odds at which you backed the horse on the day of the race, or the Starting Price it went off at: whichever of the two is higher.