EIGHT years on after the first meeting of Abbeyfeale Races and the event has now become a key fixture in the summer calendar of events in West Limerick and beyond.
Indeed, said Toddy McMahon, one of the members of the organising committee, Abbeyfeale Races is now one of the biggest events on the Munster circuit. And it is taking place this Sunday with the first race starting at 1.30pm
Aimed at young jockeys before they can acquire their licence to race at track meetings at the age of 16, Abbeyfeale Races has proven to be the cradle for success for several jockey hopefuls. Conor King, last year’s champion apprentice jockey, has riden at Abbeyfeale while Oisin Murphy, now making a name and career for himself in England, has also graced the event.
The venue is Relihan’s field, just a few miles beyond Abbeyfeale on the Limerick side of Duagh. “It’s a fabulous 30-acre field down by the river Feale. It’s a beautiful spot,” Mr McMahon explains.
With at least 10 races on the cards, the afternoon will be a lively one. Races range from six furlongs to the highlight of the card, the two-mile Abbeyfeale Derby, sponsored by the Brynes family. All races are run under the Horse and Pony Racing Association rules, Mr McMahon stressed. But there will also be plenty of entertainment to while away the times in-between. “We will have two marquees, one for serving food as well as a bar. We will also have two bands, Sound as a Pound and The Jig is Up playing throughout the afternoon,” Mr McMahon said. In addition, there will be a bouncing castle for children, face-painting and pony rides.
“This is our eighth year running the races and between prize money and charities, we have given away over €80,000,” Mr McMahon added. Admission to next Sunday’s meeting is just €5 and crucially, children go free.