Weak figures on the final day but Moloney is looking to the future
Although the curtain has come down on the Galway festival, another busy period is only just beginning for racecourse manager Michael Moloney, as all eyes are focused on the future and the track's €6 million redevelopment.
"We're just clearing the last few things out of the building as we speak," said Moloney on Tuesday.
"Work has commenced today and in the next couple of days the blocks will start coming down."
The new construction for the western venue includes an improved Tote betting hall and Ladbrokes shop, brand new food outlets and a champagne bar with a balcony overlooking the parade ring.
"I think it'll be a huge improvement to what we have here and we're looking forward to unveiling it in 2018," said Moloney.
Organisers will be hoping the new facilities will help in terms of on-course turnover and attendance after last week's festival witnessed the aggregate crowd fall marginally by 1,227, with the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship semi-final between Tipperary and Galway significantly affecting the final-day attendance.
"We were delighted with the week," continued Moloney.
"There were increases in attendance on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, which we were thrilled about.
"We'd have been well up for the week but the Galway match definitely affected us on Sunday, and we were actually surprised about the size of the crowd; we thought it would be less."
Decline in betting activity
Perhaps more concerning was the significant drop in betting ring activity, with bookmaker turnover down €641,034 on 2016.
"It's hard to know why," added Moloney, "but one thing that must be said is there were plenty of long-priced winners. It certainly doesn't help turnover when fewer people back the winner."
The Tote also was down €458,141 for the seven-day showpiece on 2016, though curiously the trend was bucked on the Sunday, which witnessed an increase of more than €3,000 despite attendance being down by more than 4,000.
Organisers were praised for parking procedures, for which Moloney attributed planning from the Gardaí and council officials, as well as the number of cars falling due to more racegoers using public transport.
Another incentive that went down well was the installation of on-demand video replay monitors by IRIS (racecourse integrity services).
"We were happy to facilitate it when they approached us," said Moloney, "I think it's a sign of things to come.
"Moving with the times is something invaluable in this industry. I'd love to see the machines rolled out across the country."
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