THE ANNUAL thundering of hooves will roll across the Feale valley next Sunday when the Abbeyfeale Horse and Pony races, one of the most popular local events of their kind, take place.
From its usual picturesque setting at Relihan’s Inch, Duagh, the full day event will once again blend fun yet competitive racing with an entertaining family atmosphere.
Proceeds from this year’s races will go towards helping charitable organisations working in West Limerick and North Kerry.
Abbeyfeale butcher Toddy McMahon, a member of the organising committee, said that the races have become an exciting part of the summer: “We’ve had huge crowds coming out to it over the last couple of years. It’s getting stronger and stronger the whole time; it’s something for people around here to really look forward to.”
The eleven race card gets under way at 1pm, with categories ranging from junior jockeys on small ponies to more seasoned racers on full-sized mounts.
While the day will have a friendly atmosphere, there will nonetheless be a clear competitive edge with an estimated prize pot of €8,000 up for grabs.
Away from the racing, the punters will be able to sample a whole host of entertainments for all ages; including bouncing castles and face painting for children, and a full bar and mini-restaurant for adults. A raffle will take place on the day which will feature a €1,000 top prize.
Mr McMahon said that while the races have become a dried-in fixture on the calendar, each year the event would not be able to take place without the sponsorship of local businesses, and the efforts of the committee.
“We’ve had a great response from all our sponsors. This wouldn’t be happening without them, for sure. There’s a good few of us on the committee too. We’ve all gotten stuck into it over the last while”.
Mr McMahon said that while the beneficiaries of this year’s races have yet to be decided, the proceeds will go towards charities doing local community work. Last year, proceeds were donated to the Brothers of Charity in Newcastle West and the Kerry Parents and Friends Association in Listowel. Entry to the races is €5 at the gate for adults, with children free.