As it marks 100 years of racing this year, Ballinrobe Racecourse plays host to its first fixture of 2021 next Friday.
In all, there will be ten racemeetings at Ballinrobe this year with the highlight being the annual McHale Race Day on May 25. That fixture will feature the McHale Mayo National Handicap Chase which became the first graded race to be run at Ballinrobe last year.
Local historian and author Averil Staunton is putting the final touches to a centenary book which will be published this summer. It will be a celebration of the rich history of horse racing in the local area and will contain memoirs from the wider racing community and those associated with Ballinrobe Racecourse.
Racecourse manager John Flannelly said: “Horse racing in and around Ballinrobe goes back almost 250 years but this year marks 100 years at the racecourse and we are determined to celebrate it. Obviously, we wish that we could welcome the racing public to celebrate with us in what is a very special year but that’s just not possible at the moment.
“Due to the current pandemic our original celebrations to mark the occasion have been put on hold. We really are looking forward to launching our centenary book during the summer and my thanks to Averil and her team for all the hard work they have been putting in on the project for close to 18 months now.
“We are so thankful to all those who have made and are making racing behind closed doors possible. Our own staff do a terrific job and it is down to them that racing at Ballinrobe is always such a wonderful sporting and social occasion.
“We can’t pay enough tribute to our sponsors who have stuck by us all through last year and into this year. They each had any number of reasons to pull out but their commitment to the racecourse and to Irish racing is nothing short of remarkable.
“We are delighted to be back racing again next Friday and more importantly to celebrate our centenary year at Ballinrobe. I feel very lucky to have been the manager of this wonderful track for the past 22 years.
“Ballinrobe wouldn’t be what it is today without our fantastic committee, dedicated and hardworking staff and the support we receive year on year from our loyal sponsors. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, we will be able to welcome everyone back to the racecourse. It’s the racegoers that create the exciting atmosphere on racedays that Ballinrobe is renowned for.”