History of galway races
The first racing festival on the Ballybrit racecourse took place on 17th August 1869 where it is believed 40.000 people turned up to watch. The Ballybrit racecourse that measured one and a half miles long was described as a course that excelled any other course in Ireland for good going. The first festival was staged over two days, with four races on each day, but the main attraction for the huge crowd was the Galway Plate,a steeplechase that carried a prize of 100 ‘Sovs’ and raced over a 2½ miles. This first Galway Plate was won by ‘Absentee’in a thirteen horse field.
The festival became an overnight success and the Galway Plate rapidly became one of the biggest races in Ireland. Improvements to the course were constantly made and reputations earned over the next fifty years.