FREE buses will again travel from Kilkenny Castle to the Goffs Thyestes Chase in Gowran tomorrow (Thursday), a bumper race meeting which is this year expected to draw 6,500 plus to the popular race track and will be a significant money spinner for the regional economy.
The buses leave from the Kilkenny Castle gates from 11am and racing begins just after 1pm.
Hospitality packages for the popular meeting sold out in record time, Racecourse manager Margaret Fogarty confirmed.
But she said there would be plenty dining and bar facilities for all punters and is very happy with the speed at which this year’s meeting has sold so far.
“It’s a great value day out with adult prices at just €17. There’s also concessions for seniors and the unemployed. Advance booking up by as much as 20% on the same time last year, an increase which we’ve put down to the mild weather and the value offered by pre-booking and group discounts.
“It all pointing to significant increase in attendance. Our regulars tell us they missed their day out last year. The Goffs’ support for and sponsorship of our feature race, The Goffs Thyestes just after 3pm on race day, is a massive vote of confidence in Gowran Park and the long-term vision we have for this track, particularly in such a challenging economic climate.
“Punters choose to come here, year in year out for Thyestes day and for other meetings and spend their money at a rural track. Goffs Thyestes day is a very special day out for the National Hunt and farming community – a pilgrimage of sorts for people from all over Ireland.
“We are very thankful to Goffs and to all of our other sponsors for their exceptional support this and every other year. We’ve €196,000 in prizemoney on offer on the day, thanks to the support of the four-star Langton House Hotel, the family of the late PJ Foley, Martinstown Stud, Netwatch System and of course the Gowran Park Racing Club,” Ms Fogarty said.
The big race is very much taking shape, with the field being reduced to 31 after 17 potential runners were pulled out at the forfeit stage on Thursday last.
Quel Esprit and Chicago Grey were among those that were taken out, so the Pauline Gavin-trained Ad Idem now tops the weights.
The majority of the leading contenders for the race have stood their ground and the powerful local trainer Willie Mullins is likely to saddle a strong challenger in the famous Graham Wylie silks in the shape of either On His Own or Prince De Beauchene, both of which were recently imported from Britain.
One of the leading fancies in the market is the Ted Walsh-trained Seabass, with the lightly raced 9-year-old coming into the race seeking a hat-trick, having won his last two starts in valuable handicap chases at Punchestown and Limerick.
Others of interest are the Colm Murphy-trained Glam Gerry, the Tom Nagle-trained The Bishop Looney and the Mags Mullins-trained Marlay Park.
As exciting as the main event is sure to be, the entries for the other races on the card are very strong and it promises to be an enthralling day, with Cheltenham Festival clues likely to be plentiful.
The Grade 2 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle is the pick of the supporting races and it is likely to see Colm Murphy’s Grade 1-winning mare Voler La Vedette take her chance.
She will not have it all her own way though, as Willie Mullins has a formidable looking list of entries to choose from, with Final Approach, Mikael D’Haguenet, Mourad and Zaidpour all being potential runners.
Another race worth watching is the concluding Gowran Pk Racing Club 2012 INH Flat Race, as it has attracted a number of highly-promising previous winners, most notably the Willie Mullins-trained The Paparrazi Kid.
Thyestes Day is always a special one for trainers from all over the country but particularly from Kilkenny.
This meeting is also a huge boost to the local economy. It brings 6,500 people to the meeting itself and many more visitors to Kilkenny who stay in local hotels, eat out in restaurants and enjoy shopping and visitor attractions in the region.
“We would strongly advise groups or individuals coming to Thyestes to travel by bus. The shuttle buses have run throughout the year and they are a safe, stress-free way to travel. We also have coaches leaving Carlow town at 11am and would encourage racing fans to take those buses and leave their cars at home.
“We will have a major traffic management system in operation and we do advise people to come early. It makes life a lot easier for everyone. Thyestes day is always a great day out and we want everyone to enjoy a stress-free day here,” Ms Fogarty said.