Sunday 24th July

It’s Galway eve. We purchased a second pitch in Galway over the weekend so myself and Declan head off to Ballybrit on Sunday morning early to set up both pitches. It should ease the pressure on the Monday having all the heavy lifting done a day in advance. When we arrive in Galway its raining cats and dogs. We erect the pitches under a temporary structure and when finished we carry them out to their positions in the betting ring. The whole thing takes about 20 minutes but while we are there the rain gets heavier and heavier. We are both thinking the same thing but neither of us dare say it…..please God keep this rain coming! Nothing like a sudden change of ground to get us a few shock results on the most important week of them all.

Monday 25th July

4 am start as I’ve an appointment in Dublin first thing Monday morning, once that’s over its home for a quick change of clothes and off to Galway. The newly acquired team that have come together at the 12th hour are all at the racecourse and are ready for action. Myself , Dad and two others on the main pitch which was previously owned by Victor Chandler and Declan was managing the new pitch, with 2 cousins of mine who kindly agreed to help for the week, which was positioned just over half way down the stand line.

Hms Seahorse opens at 8/13, he should win but he’s short in the betting. Feel your way into the week and don’t do anything stupid I tell myself. The betting is solid without being spectacular and I am happy with a steady book on the first race until after they have ran about 100 yards a 1k bet on Hms Seahorse comes in from the slave pitch, now I’m standing him for a couple of hundred more than I intended but so be it. Next week we’ll be back begging for bets so no way can we turn it down this week of all week’s. The fav runs stink and we get a double figure priced winner to start the week…what a start.

Darkened wins by a nose in the handicap hurdle at 12/1 but we lay him well and do no good on the race. Frustrating to say the least.

4k on Pivitol Trigger @ 5/2 is the first bet struck with us in the maiden. We are forced to go after the odds on jolly but its not easy to get. Another losing race and another frustrating one as I hate losing when an odds on shot is beaten.

Echoes in Rain wins the feature event , returning as 11/4 fav. We don’t do much damage. Laying Willie Mullins horses in staying handicaps on the flat isn’t an intelligent thing to do. We’ve all learned the hard way!

Dairerin wins the next handicap @ 9/2 and he’s our worst result in the book. So much for the ground coming to our aid.

Fortunes come for Common Practise, we lay him at 9/4 and 2/1 and he gets beat a short head. We are back in the game and we have got away with one there. We stood him for too much and if he had won we would have done precisely what I didn’t want to do today, leaving us with a mountain to climb for the week after day 1 has happened us once before in Galway its my job to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Second fav wins the bumper to leave us winning something very small for the day. An up and down day but it’s over and we move on, no point worrying about the past. Overall business is patchy , I hope it’s a hangover from the Galway match the day before and its not a sign of things to come for the week…

Tuesday 26th July

I know driving in the gate the place feels busier, there’s a buzz about it that wasn’t here yesterday. We always aim to be here at least 3 hours before racing each day.

Tax For Max is  a short price fav and gets beaten, he doesn’t win very often and we are happy to take him on. Day 2 off to a flier.

Midnight flier the same – 2 races down , 2 – 0 to the layers. Business is brisk and the money is staying in the bag…

Dower House opens at evens in the 3rd race. I’m pretty sure he’s no star so happy to push him out to 11/10. Despite the punters being burnt in the opening races they plough in. 2k at 11/10, 1500 at 11/10 and plenty of monkey bets at 11/10… he’s starting to shorten but we stick to our guns, something will surely beat him. A certain DK Weld comes to our rescue , who would have ever thought he’d be the bookmakers darling in Galway. Tahiyra is a name to remember. 3-0 after 3 races.

The first Scud Missile of the day. A grand win Magic Chegaga at 9/1 from a punter I’m sure backed her with me in the Curragh on her previous run. Business was brisk but she was always going to be a loser after that bet. She wins well and I’m left scratching my head, should I have backed her back ? hindsight is wonderful. Time to move on.

Coreman and Dunum cancel each other out in the next 2 races. We can’t lose for the day but can we put the icing on the cake in the last?

The race comes alive with heaps of different horses backed in it. Fortunately, Clear Quartz isn’t one of them despite being one of the fancied horses in the race. We win a 5 figure sum for the day. Pretty sure its our best day ever in Galway.

Wednesday 27th July

Bad start to plate day. Champ Kiely puts in an enormous performance and is our biggest liability. He looks like a man against boys and wins like he should have been 1/5 rather than 9/4. It’s a while since I’ve seen a performance like it around Galway. We’ll hear a lot more about this fella

Rock Road wins easily in race 2. First bet we lay is 3 k at 5/1. Once bitten twice shy and we hedge half of it when I see 6/1 available with some of my colleagues. Punters 2- 0 bookmakers

Outback flier gets us back to all square after 3 races. She didn’t go unbacked with some of my neighbours laying it well. I think I have dodged a bullet.

The betting for the plate is lively. Hewick wins it in what should be a good result for the layers but I do no good in it. I give him no chance in advance so when we lay a monkey ew at 18/1 I have no intention of backing it back. The rest is history. Races like this can dent your confidence, everyone around you wins and you don’t. Its important not to let the head drop. This can turn into a game of psychological warfare at times.

The punters have money now and they go on the attack. They plough into Comfort Zone, Merlin Giant and Hallowed Star in what is the biggest holding race of the week so far. Yes, you read that correct… a qualified riders maiden was the biggest hold of the week so far… Dads lad wins at 28/1 to give us a screamer. God bless Galway. We are back infront and out of the sizeable hole we were in.

Sir Antonio wins the 6 th which is another decent result in the penultimate race of the day.

What we have we hold was my idea in the last race but the punters had other ideas. 2 k at 15/8 on Unanswered started the ball rolling and even though we cut it straight to 13/8 the money kept coming. They were backing this thing like it was gone by already. Fortunately for us the bird had flown when Scenic Look stole a few lengths off the bend to just hold on from a fast finishing Unanswered. The groan from the grandstand was loud. The sigh of relief from the bookmakers may not have been as audible but it was there, believe me.

Another good winning day, not as good as Tuesday but sweeter, today we were behind the black ball and got out of it.

Thursday 28th July

Busy busy busy

Willie Mullins gets us off to a screamer with Rambranlt’jac. Great buzz about the place, a few more results like that and the crowd may not be so jovial…

Punters plough into Sole Pretender and Ganapathi and ignore everything else, Visionarian gives us another screamer. Now the mind begins to wander… maybe ill get 2 holidays in this year…

Soaring monarch is very well backed in the next which reminds us that this game isn’t easy… just incase we start to get complacent.

Plenty of money about in the listed fillies race, we have 3 bad losers joint favs Nectaris and Night of Romance are bad results but Voice of Angels is a real stinker. We lay everything in the race and probably have the best book of the week here. We never really have a sweat, Surrounding wins at 10/1. She didn’t go unbacked but we aren’t complaining.

Hors Piste is very short in the novice hurdle, evens in plenty of places but we are happy to lay her at 11/10 for plenty. This looks ultra competitive and our tails are up. Punters and even some fellow bookmakers pile in at 11/10 but I’m here to lay her , if I’d had a tad more patience I would have got her shorter but we’ve given it a lash and seen plenty of money for D K Welds horse Falcon Eight at 3/1. The two of them decide to take each other on from 6 furlongs out which plays into our hands just lovely, Falcon bows out first and Hors Piste is punch drunk in the last half furlong and is reeled in 50 yards from the line by outsider Salvador Ziggy. Another huge result in a race we are holding money. Pinching myself here , its hard to believe how well its going.

Galway Hurdle throws up a 22/1 winner and we lose on the race – shouldn’t happen but for the second day in a row the feature race has bitten me in the ass. This place takes no prisoners.

I’m still annoyed with myself and don’t win what I should when Star Image wins at 40/1. My frustrations then boil over into the bumper and I take on What Path. He’s run 3 times and looks limited. I know after a furlong I’m in trouble. What Path jumps out and is dictating it all on his own terms. Suicidal tactics by the rest that was sure to cost them. Race over early and day over which is no harm as I was self-destructing. A good day that should have been so much better.

Motorway closed on way home. The journey that should take an hour takes nearly 4 to complete. A long day at the office.

Friday 29th July

Rain rain go away come again another day…

We arrive very early today and its clear there’s going to be a huge crowd.

The first 3 races are mad busy and we are winning our quota, everything is going to plan but the rain is getting heavier and heavier. By race 4 we are soaked to the bone, card machine broken, a printer has given up and we have a ticket scanner on the blink.

The results keep rolling in our favour but the weather is getting worse. What would we be winning if the crowd could come out from the shelter???… These are results from heaven.

We still manage to do 1500 tickets for the day but it would have been multiples of it had the weather played ball.

Another good winning day so we shouldn’t complain too much. The drive home in just my underwear and shoes did get a few funny looks but I was so wet I didn’t care!

Saturday 30th July

Another day of atrocious weather. Constant rain is a bastard to work in. It sucks the life out of you.

Not a single moan or groan out of any of the team they just get on with it.

We lose on the first 2 races, Serious Challenge wins the 3rd beating an odds on shot but we aren’t holding money, there’s now a river flowing through the betting ring. I don’t know weather to laugh or cry.

Lose on the next 2 races. Maybe were lucky it’s lashing all day and the business is quiet.

We go through the motions in the final few races and lose for the first day this week.

I do however have a change of clothes today so nobody needs to see a strange man driving home partially naked!

Sunday 31st July

We are here in body but not in spirit. The business is reasonably brisk considering its generally the quietest day of the week. I’m not taking part to any great extent. I’ve had a brilliant week all things considered, and I have absolutely no intention giving it back today… been there and done that in previous years!

We win a few quid for the day to end the week on a good note.

Galway 2022, you will be fondly remembered.