IN the region of 100,000 punters are anticipated to turn out at Listowel’s Annual Harvest Racing Festival, which runs from Sunday next through to the following Saturday (September 17-23).
Celebrating 165 years of quality racing at the scenic course, this year the Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the festival are all National Hunt meetings, while Tuesday and Thursday both feature an all-flat race card.
Rathkeale’s Eric McNamara and Charles Byrnes of Ballingarry have both saddled winners of the National in years gone by.
The opening day’s feature is the Kerry Group Steeplechase of €40,000. Sunday also features the return of the best dressed event, the Lyrath Estate Best Dressed Couples Competition judged by Kristin McKenzie Vass, with a prize fund valued at €2,000. In addition, it is also family day sponsored by Garvey’s SuperValu.
The main race on Monday is the Liam Healy Memorial Lartigue Hurdle of €50,000. The fixture also sees the return of a competition celebrating one of fashion’s most iconic wardrobe essentials – blue denim jeans.
Tuesday’s highlight is the Edmond and Josie Whelan Memorial Listowel Stakes of €37,500. Top Irish DJ Marty Guilfoyle will be spinning the hits and there are also cash prizes for the best dressed young racer under 25.
The week’s stand-out fixture – The Guinness Kerry National Steeplechase €200,000 (Grade A) – is on Wednesday and always attracts a huge crowd. Listowel is partnered with Royal Ascot and their chairman, Sir Francis Brooke, will be visiting the course to reciprocate the hospitality shown to the Listowel Directors over the past few years.