Some of the punters at Listowel last year
THE schools are back, the All-Irelands have been played, the year has turned and Listowel Races have come round again.
A great marker in the annual calendar, the Listowel Harvest Festival is celebrating its 160th anniversary this year, making it one of the longest running festivals in the country. It kicks off this Sunday for a seven-day run.
Tradition, top-class racing, the involvement of the community and a great atmosphere have contributed to making Listowel a must visit for Limerick people and one of the premier racing festivals of the year. But the company’s commitment to improving facilities and to embrace initiatives has also played a part in keeping the name up there in the front rank.
Big prize money is, of course, also an attraction and this year sees some of the top races offer even bigger purses. The Kerry National Steeplechase now stands at €200,000 while the Ladbraoke Ireland Listowel Handicap Hurdle is also up at €100,000.
This year, for the first time ever, Monday will be a flat-race card. The national hunt races will be run on Sunday, Tuesday and Saturday while Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will offer a mixed card.
The @ListowelRaces Harvest festival gets underway this Sunday!— Horse Racing Ireland (@GoRacing) September 6, 2018
An action-packed week of Flat and National Hunt racing awaits with the highlight on the track being Wednesday's Guinness Kerry National Keep up to date with the latest Listowel news https://t.co/aspYbV44Ne pic.twitter.com/9yxgpg0961
“The going is good at the moment,” Listowel Racing Company secretary, Brenda Daly said this Tuesday. But, she added: “We have a long week and we will be keeping a close eye on the course, monitoring it.”
“If everything goes to plan, and we get the good weather, we would expect the numbers to be up,” Ms Daly continued.
The largest crowd traditionally is on Ladies Day, Friday, September 14 and this year, for the first time, the Ladies Day Marquee will be located at the town end of the course.
The Save Your Heels, We’ve Got Wheels initiative, will return again this year, providing transport from town to track.