Racing returns to Ballinrobe with a virtual dress rehearsal

BALLINROBE Racecourse manager John Flannelly is a relieved man following the news that his venue will hold its first meeting on Monday, July 20.

It may never be the same due to the Covid-19 pandemic but the news that Ballinrobe has finally been given the green light to hold its first meeting of 2020 has come as huge boost to the race committee in Ballinrobe.

The award-winning course will hold a total of six meeting this year, including the Mayo National, which is the big feature race of the season.

They were originally down to hold 12 meetings but it is a case of half a loaf being a lot better than no bread at all given the crisis the country has come through and is continuing to battle.

Ballinrobe will have a meeting on Wednesday, July 22, to follow up the Monday meeting, and other meetings will be held on Monday, August 10; Monday, August 24; Friday, September 6; and Saturday, October 17.

Prize money will be down but that is understandable under the circumstance, and all meetings will be behind closed doors.

Mr. Flannelly said: "Due to Covid-19 and for the safety of racegoers, our race meetings will take place behind closed doors.

"We are in the same boat as most sports. It is on a day by day basis as we just don’t know what may be around the corner, but we are glad to be up and running and we are all set for the opening day and all the necessary protocols will be in order.

"It is unfortunate that we won’t have the crowds but that’s the way it is and hopefully we can survive this year and look forward to a brighter and better 2021, but nobody knows what the future holds in light of this pandemic."

Ladies Day fell victim to Covid-19 but always innovative, the Ballinrobe committee have come up with an alternative.

"Our Ladies Day is always hugely popular, so we wanted to continue to engage with our female racegoers ahead of our first race meeting on July 20," explained the racecourse manager.

"We put our heads together with Marietta and Mandy and came up with the virtual ladies day concept.

"Thanks to The Lodge at Ashford for their fabulous prize, we hope everyone has a great night dressing up and having fun while supporting the brilliant services Western Care Association offer people with intellectual and physical disabilities in Mayo."

Style supremos

Ladies Day in Ballinrobe has developed into one of the biggest days in the racing calendar.

This year, Ballinrobe Races have teamed up with style supremos Marietta Doran and Mandy Maher for their inaugural virtual ladies day on Friday, July 17, in aid of Western Care Association.

From the comfort and safety of everyone’s homes, Marietta and Mandy are putting a call out to all ladies to virtually express their own individual style and unique looks that will turn the judges’ heads.

The best dressed lady will win a luxury stay for two at The Lodge at Ashford Castle, including dinner and breakfast in Wilde’s Restaurant. Enjoy the stunning views of Lough Corrib from a lake view suite and a complimentary bottle of champagne on arrival.

The two finalists will win a pair of complimentary tickets for Ballinrobe’s 2021 Ladies Day, along with and a bottle of bubbly each.

Marietta and Mandy will announce the winner on Ballinrobe’s Facebook page and Instagram at 9 p.m. on the evening of July 17.

You can donate €5 to Western Care Association via the GoFundMe page ( Proof of donation will be required to enter the virtual ladies day between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on July 17.

Share a head to toe photo of your outfit on Ballinrobe’s Facebook page or Instagram stories, tagging Ballinrobe Races, Marietta Doran and Mandy Maher using the hashtag #BallinrobeVLD. Make sure you include details of your entire outfit and where you live. Entries from all over Ireland and indeed the world would be greatly appreciated.

Seven-race card

Ballinrobe Racecourse returns to racing on Monday, July 20, with a flat evening meeting.

This fixture and all the fixtures this year will take place under the strict protocols published by Horse Racing Ireland.

In line with government guidelines regarding Covid-19, for public health and safety reasons the raceway will not be open to the general public.

The schedule for the seven-race opening evening is as follows: 4.45 p.m. The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden; 5.15 p.m. The Treacy’s Pharmacies Maiden; 5.45 p.m. The David Heneghan Memorial Handicap; 6.15 p.m. The Paddy Smyth Memorial Apprentice Handicap; 6.45 p.m. The Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden; 7.15 p.m. The John Madden and Sons Handicap; 7.45 p.m. The Bay Leaf Handicap.

Pictured is style supremo Marietta Doran who, along with Mandy Maher, has teamed up with Ballinrobe Races for their inaugural virtual ladies day on Friday, July 17, in aid of Western Care Association.