Friday, September 11, 2015

Laytown Horse Races September 10, 2015

Tara Brooch, c 1850
We've lived in Mornington for two years this month. This is a unique area, and the hubs and I both agree one of the most pleasant places we've lived in Ireland in the last 18 years since I came here.

There are three small communities along a three mile stretch of coastline: Laytown, Bettystown, and Mornington. While Mornington is not actually a village but a residential community, it occupies a wonderful position at the entrance to the River Boyne at the Irish Sea . . . water on two sides of us.

Laytown is two villages south, with Bettystown in the center. Bettystown would be the larger village with a recent history as a resort community...we even have carnival rides year round!

Laytown is a smaller community which borders the River Nanny at the opposite end of the strand. It has a lot of history, including being the place where the famous Tara Brooch was discovered in 1850 by a local woman, while digging in the sand for clams.

Laytown is also home to the famous Laytown Strand  Races, which is what I'm talking about today.

The Laytown Races, as it's locally known, was founded in 1867 with the first recorded race in 1868, which was held in conjunction with the Drogheda Regatta. It's said rowing took place at high tide with a horse race at low tide.

Today, the Laytown Strand Race is the only beach horse race sanctioned by the Turf Club in Ireland and Britain. So it's no surprise a lot of British come over on the ferry on a day trip.

The Laytown Races are held one day every year, on the second Thursday of September. Thousands of people come out for the event, the local schools are closed, and people show up in their finest. Well, some do. As typical of horse racing, ladies often dress for the occasion, which includes a big, fancy hat. There were some interesting characters, for sure, from the fancy dressed ladies to men in cravats and straw hats. One man in velvet trousers and a glorious long, white beard.

The main attraction were the horses, of course.

Below are some photos from the first three races. There were six races in all, but we only stayed for the first three. Sick dog at home so couldn't be out too long. But it was a fun time, and high time we went, considering we've been here two years now and missed the last two.

A quick note or two: I used my Canon Powershot SX60HS to take these photos. The staring gates were a mile up the beach, and in the fog. This camera normally takes great distance photos but with the low fog, we'll call these atmospheric!

I hope you enjoy the photos. Maybe it will inspire you to attend The Laytown Strand Races in 2016!

Approx. 1 mile, from near Bettystown to Laytown
When the tide is in, it comes up near the chainlink.
Bettystown Strand, north
3 mile flat, sandy tidal beach

Bettystown Strand, south
3 miles of flat, sandy tidal beach

Finding a good viewing spot on the embankment

Everyone, place your bets!

Gotta move faster than that, lad, if you want to catch up!

Cycling on the beach. Sure, why not?!

Cycling on the beach. Who'da thought?!

The finish line
Fast On
Mane braiding

Red All Star
heading to the gates

Race 1 - In the gates
Foggy afternoon

Race 1
And they're off!

Race 1
Nearing the finish

Race 1
1st - Putin
2nd - Kiss the Stars
3rd - Shabra Emperor

Race 2
And they're off!
Race two
1 - Acroleina
2 - Enigma Code
3 - Clear Focus

This young lad is clearly happy to see the horse
Race 2 - Virile
Finished well back

Race 3
Heading to the gates
Mistress Marinrio

Race 3
Heading to the gates
#2 - Captain Midnight
#6 - Prospectorous

Race 3
Heading to the gates

Race 3
Heading to the gates
Rigid Rock

Race 3
Heading to the gates

Race three

Nearing the finish

Race 3
1 - Bussa
2 - Tithonus
3 - Mistress Marinrio

The calm before the next race