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9 Things You Should Know Before Heading West For The Galway Races

By mariemadden

July 29, 2017 at 4:35pm


Whether you're a fan of a flutter or not, there's no denying that a trip to the Galway Races is a rite of passage.

The whole city is taken over for the week of the Ballybrit Summer Festival and it is absolutely madness, with everything from haute couture to top tips doing the rounds.

Like most things, a little insider information always helps when planning a trip to the Races so here are our top pieces of advice...

Don't automatically choose Ladies' Day

The hoards always head to Ballybrit for Ladies Day and to be fair, it's great craic... if you have endless amounts of patience. If you're at a point where you prefer a little bit more comfort (and the option of a seat when your legs get tired), head down for the Galway Plate on Wednesday instead. There's still great racing, plenty of fashion to spot and you'll be able to spend your time enjoying yourself instead of standing queues.

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Start the day with a good breakfast

At the best of times, Galway has a way of leading you astray. While you may mean to meet a friend for a coffee, 50% of the time you'll end up having pints outside Neachtains. It's just unavoidable and this is never more true that Race Week.

While there's food available at the racecourse, it can often slip down the list of priorities once those winners start coming in so line the stomach with a massive breakfast and you'll be ready for whatever is in store. Ard Bia and StudioGastrolounge are two great spots in the city centre, or try The Porterhouse in Oranmore for a tasty and affordable feed.

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Get the bus

Even if you're averse to public transport, this is one of those times when you just have to go with it. The traffic will be back-to-back and the bus service is surprisingly reliable, so get a return ticket and spend the trip picking out your winners for the day instead of navigating busy roundabouts.

You may have to put up with a few verses of 'Ruby, Ruby, Ruby' by those who started early but you'll get used to it before long.

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Learn the lingo

Horse racing is a world all of its own, with a language to match. So, if you want to give the impression that you're well in with the horsey crowd, you'll have to do a bit of homework.

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Think practical

While fashion may be the order of the day, it's very important to remember that you're heading to an outdoor sporting event rather than the Met Gala. Best Dressed judges are looking for something that combines comfort and style so if you can't walk in the heels, leave them at home.

It's always a nice touch to combine high street finds with local boutiques as well, so check out local spots The Treasure Chest and Galway Tweed Project for something that will stand out on the course.

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Lay your bets before you go

If you're all set for Ladies Day, one way to make things easier for yourself is to lay your bets in town before you head out to the racecourse. You can still have a flutter once you get there if you come across a hot tip but it will save you from making the trek through the throngs after every race. Alternatively, download an app before you head off and do it all online!

Whichever way you bet, set a budget before you go and stick to it. You'll fly through the cash otherwise!

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Go easy on the champagne

It may be tempting to hit the sparkly stuff after spotting all the zelebs in the Champagne Tent but it will go to your head and you will regret burning the ear of Gráinne Seoige. A day at the Races is a long day, so it pays to pace yourself.

It's also a good idea to pick a meeting point on the course once you get there, as you'll probably get separated from your mates at some point.

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Drop all of your stuff home

It can be tempting to head straight out on the lash after you get back into the city centre but if you have anything valuable, sentimental or that you'd like to see again, drop it back to your room first.

Quay Street turns into one big street party during the Races and chances are, you'll end up going home with one shoe and no jacket come 3am. You'll regret nothing though.

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Know where to go

Looking for tips? The Hole In The Wall has long been a hotspot for those in the business ahead of (and after) a day's racing so pop in for a pint and keep an ear to the ground. The Radisson Hotel is the only show in town when it comes to a late night party but it's always packed to the rafters. if you fancy getting in, head over early to get one of those coveted wristbands.

The likes of Taaffes, The Front Door, The Quays and The Spanish Arch will be pouring out on to the street so don't be surprised if a bag of cans suddenly looks like an attractive option.

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