Irish Stew and Whiskey may be the two mainstays of Ireland’s history, but one would be foolish enough to forget horseracing and its role in Irish culture. The recent depression in popularity may have plagued other European countries, but Ireland never gave up on their good old chap. Traditions and races are still being followed, and one such tradition cum race is the Laytown Race. Europe’s only beach horseracing event, and although it takes only a few hours, its yearly editions are a huge hit among the natives and racing enthusiasts.
Not far away from Dublin, Laytown Races garner fans from across the continent and a count of 5000 cheering spectators is recorded on average, quite high for a one-day event. The tradition is 150 years old, but the official rules and nuances regarding it will remain intact, however small tweaks are always made. Joseph Collins who is the chairman of Laytown Races commented that the races will follow the Cheltenham guideline with official stewards and handicappers available too. Dope testing and identification routine would also be carried out.
Collins also revealed that the organizers are putting in days and nights to complete the arrangements before the big day arrives as a few time constraints have hit them. Elevated Sand dunes are made for spectators to cheer for their favourite jockey. Looking back at the history, Boyne Regatta and Laytown Races were first in conjunction in 1868, where many suggested the former was done during high tide and the latter took low tide to its liking.
The racing format was changed in 1994 after a tragic incident that saw 3 horses brutally injured. Previously a U-shaped track saw horses up against the commanding tide, although the incident altered the course and now a furlong straight is practised. The incident has left a deep scar among the committee and every possible measure of safety is being looked into. Jockeys and trainers are taken special care of and many trainers come in early to get accustomed to the new challenge. Sanitization is also followed, but such cautious measure hasn’t altered the game’s excitement one bit, and the unpredictability makes up for it.
Laytown Races is not only a desperate measure to cling on to horseracing culture, but a phenomenon that the racing World enjoys.