Video: The Pat Flynn-trained Topadee lands a gamble on the strand at Laytown, opening one of the most unusual race meetings in the world.
An integral part to the conclusion of the Irish Flat season, Laytown races has been in existence for over 140 years. The first recorded meeting was in 1868 and held on the beach between Mornington and Gormanstown in County Meath. Racing takes place over 6f and 7f on an almost level straight. Restrictions on the number of runners have improved safety for both horses and jockeys in recent years.
A lot of work goes into transforming the strand into a race track. In the run-up to the day a small field adjacent to the strand is turned into a racing enclosure, complete with parade ring, bookies' pitches, judge’s box and temporary grandstand. Marquees spring up to house the bar, restaurants, weighing room and other facilities.
Top trainers including Dermot Weld, Kevin Prendergast, Tom Cooper, Tommy Stack and David Marnane have sent runners to Laytown. The last Aga Khan visited the races and attendances have peaked above 10,000 in the past. Once racing finishes, however, the racecourse is dismantled and the only trace of it is a few discarded betting tickets and one permanent structure - the gents' toilets.