Horse trainer Ado McGuinness, left, chairman of Laytown Races Joe Collins and manager of Laytown Races Kevin Coleman, right, at the launch of the 2019 Laytown Races in Gilna's Cottage Inn, Laytown. Picture: Paul Mohan Welpics.
Around 100 people turned up to the official launch of the 2019 Laytown Races in Gilna’s The Cottage Inn, Laytown, yesterday with ten housing estates drawn to represent a runner in the inaugural ‘Pride of Place’ race.
A total prize fund of €700 will be won at the Laytown Races on Wednesday September 11 to help local residents associations and community groups enhance the village with flowers and plants.
Legendary racing commentator Des Scahill hosted the event interviewing Laytown Races Chairman Joe Collins, renowned landscape horticulturist John McCullen and horse racing trainers Ado McGuinness, Gerry Keane and John Carr.
The Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council, Wayne Harding, Senator Ged Nash and Councillors Sharon Tolan, Tom Behan and Annie Hoey were also in attendance. Members of the audience were called on to draw the following 10 housing estates/residential areas who will represent their corresponding number in the race:
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The estates matched to the first three horses home in the ‘Gilna’s Cottage Inn Pride of Place Race’ will win a prize of garden centre vouchers for Black’s in Julianstown and for Pat Stafford in Laytown, with €400 for first place, €200 for second and €100 for third.
The winners can decide how to enhance the village with plants, flowers, trees, shrubbery or wildflowers. Representatives of the winning groups will be invited into the parade ring for a special presentation after the race.
Chairman of Laytown Races, Joe Collins, said: “We’re excited to launch the 2019 Laytown Races. We have had a complete re-haul of our website www.laytownstrandraces.ie, making it easier for people to find the information they are looking for.
He also revealed that hospitality sold out in record time and advance ticket sales have been strong, especially from overseas visitors.
“Racegoers will notice new options in our improved food court and we are working on improving the layout and flow at what is always a busy, popular race meeting” he said.
“There’s also bound to be a lot of interest in our best dressed lady competition this year, with such great prizes from our fantastic sponsor, Scotch Hall Shopping Centre. We’re so lucky with all of our other loyal sponsors too and I would like to thank them – Bohan Hyland and Associates, Melbourne 10 Racing, Gilna’s Cottage Inn, O’Neills Sports, Hibernia Steel, Reddans Bar, The Glenside Hotel and Black’s Garden Centre.
“We’re thrilled that there has been such a great response from the local community to our ‘Gilna’s Cottage Inn Pride of Place Race’. Last year we gave €1000 to the local Tidy Towns Associations and we wanted to go even further this year. It was brilliant to see everyone mixing and mingling with neighbours and friends at the launch. There is a maximum of ten horses in the race so we couldn’t include all estates but everyone is a winner because the whole prize fund will go towards enhancing the village.”
John McCullen enthralled those gathered with his extensive knowledge about the importance of plant life to the environment and he gave a few extra tips on how to look after bees.
“The Chinese have it right when they ask when is the best time to plant a tree because the answer is yesterday. The best trees and shrubs to plant are the ones that you can see are thriving in the environment. Try to provide flowering plants all year round for bees. In the winter, ivy is the most fantastic source of nectar and bulbs are valuable to the bees early on,” he said.
Fresh from his biggest career win to date with Saltonstall at the recent Galway Festival, trainer Ado McGuinness spoke about the uniqueness of the Laytown Races, commenting: “We look forward to it every year. A lot of my owners especially those from the UK, want a winner on the beach. They’re just fascinated with the place. It’s brilliant and such a unique place to run horses. All of our team love Laytown.”
The Laytown Races take place on the beach on Wednesday, September 11 with an estimated start time of 4pm. Regular buses and trains will run to Laytown on the day and while public transport is strongly recommended there are also four free parking areas on race day. Full details are available on www.laytownstrandraces.ie