Wexford all set to share St. Patrick's Day limelight with Cheltenham
The eyes most of the racing world will be on Cheltenham on St. Patrick's Day (Friday) for the running of the Gold Cup, but Wexford fans can have the best of both worlds - live racing in the very attractive first meeting of the season at Bettyville interspersed with all the action from Cheltenham on the big screen.
The on course betting shop and the rails bookies will be covering the Cheltenham races, alongside the live fare.
The first race is off at 2.20 p.m. but the facilities will be available an hour or so beforehand, allowing everyone to get into the mood.
If the weather is reasonable at all, this is a great chance to make this a great family day out after the morning parades, with free admission for those under 14, who may like to add a bit of colour in their parade finery.
Refreshments are available at The Snack Room, the Carriglawn and The Long Bars, and if you want to push the boat out, you can book in advance for a €30 special offer, covering admission to the races and a two-course lunch in Phelim Byrne's Séasúir Restaurant in the Ivy Room, overlooking the course and parade ring.
Advance booking is necessary on 087-3828099.
The Wexford card is quite attractive in its own right, with over €100,000 in prizemoney for the seven races, with €26,000 up for grabs in the featured Veterans' Handicap Chase, sponsored by Eoin Banville and the Arctic Tack Stud, Newbawn.
Lining up here will be some of the old timers familiar to race-goers for a few years now.
The Micheál O Murchadha Memorial Rated Hurdle of €16,500 honours one of the founders of Wexford race course in 1951, and the late father of current manager, Michael Murphy.
The race is sponsored by the Saltees Shellfish Co.
The Barry Ennis Memorial Novice Handicap Hurdle (rated 80-109) is sponsored by the Ennis family as a tribute to Barry who died tragically in recent times.
He was a racing fan but was also one of those who introduced the Spiegeltent to Wexford Festival a few years ago.
Racing begins at 2.20 p.m. and the second is at 3 p.m., both two-mile maiden hurdles carrying the name of the Wexford Racecourse Supporters' Club.
The Happy St. Patrick's Day novice handicap chase of €16,500 is followed by the closing race at 5.55 p.m., the traditional bumper, over two miles four furlongs.
The Wexford Racecourse Supporters' Club is an essential part of the Bettyville set-up and they have helped fund many improvements at the course while enjoying many benefits of membership.
Officers this year are: Chairman, Tim Nolan; Vice-Chairperson, Mary Doyle; Treasurer, Keith Cooke; Secretary, Mary Ballantyne.
The €100 membership package includes admission and free card to all eleven meetings at Wexford this year (the usual cost of both is €18); reciprocal days offering free admission at nine other racecourses; access to the private Supporters' Club Bar and the right to bring a guest there with you; a free two-course meal in the Ivy Room at a meeting of your choice this season; free tea and coffee and free parking on course.
A €50 membership package is also available. For enquiries and more information call Mary on 087-3828099, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the website: www.wexfordraces.ie
The rest of this year's fixtures for the diary: Friday, April 7; Saturday, May 6; Tuesday, May 23; Wednesday, June 7 and 21; Friday, July 7 and 28; Saturday, September 2, and the Wexford Festival bank holiday meeting, Sunday and Monday, October 29 and 30.