Galway races a politician-free zone

Race week draws to a close

Galway races draw to a close tomorrow  after a week noted  for the absence of politicians. Photograph:  James Crombie/Info

Galway races draw to a close tomorrow after a week noted for the absence of politicians. Photograph: James Crombie/Info

Sat, Aug 3, 2013, 09:38

The Galway races draw to a close tomorrow afternoon after a week noted more for the absence of politicians than their presence.

Fine Gael mayor of Galway Pádraig Conneely said he had been on the lookout for his senior party colleagues, but had drawn a blank.

“I know they love to come to Galway. Race week is great, but nowadays they just don’t want to be seen drinking a glass of champagne or associated with anything like a corporate day out. It’s all low-profile stuff for them now,” he said.

He had met Minister of State for AgricultureTom Hayes on Wednesday, but he was there under his own steam.

“The chief whip Paul Kehoe was here too and the first thing he said to me was, ‘Hold on, I’m not here in any corporate way’. It’s unfortunate, but they’re the times we are living in. It all goes back to Fianna Fáil and their tent and they’re very conscious of it,” Mr Conneely added.

Victory in the big race of the evening, the Guinness Handicap, went to the Noel Meade-trained Curley Bill, owned by businessman Philip Reynolds, son of former Fianna Fáil taoiseach Albert Reynolds.

“Philip’s brother Abbie bought the horse, but I’ve never met Philip. I have been speaking to him on the phone now though,” Mr Meade said.

A victory of sorts too went to gardaí, who had arrested three pickpockets by yesterday. Traditionally, the Galway festival has always provided rich pickings for light-fingered thieves, but smart policing has curbed their efforts in recent years.

One of those detained by gardaí was carrying a substantial four-figure sum in cash. He was relieved of his “winnings” before before being taken to Galway Garda station.

The attendance last night was 23,555 compared to 20,368 last year.

Racing at Ballybrit continues today and tomorrow.