Laytown races, one of the most unique experiences in horseracing gets their only meeting of the year underway today.
The vagaries of tides dictate much of the goings-on at the beach track, although it is more beach than track. Minimal impact on the land is key for both environmental and practical reasons.
The track needs to be harrowed then furlong poles and railing erected in between tides. The stalls are put in place and then the once a year six-race card gets underway, usually in front of crowds many bigger tracks would be envious of.
Like any beach, Laytown attracts plenty of tourists. One notable annual visiting party is the Melbourne 10 syndicate. The group has horses in training in the UK with trainer Jamie Osborne among others. They have had success at the Irish beach venue and this year they are back for more.
The greatest beach invasion since 1944! @TheMelbourne10 @LaytownFestival #orangearmy pic.twitter.com/SypIY9kyuY
— jamie osborne (@osbornejamie) September 10, 2019
A name change may be required as the Melbourne 10 colours are carried by an incredible 14 runners later on the beach. They include a couple of previous winners on the strand. One horse who will be carrying the silks for the first time is Geological, trained by Damien English nearby in North Co. Dublin.
Geological is having the 98th start of his career, the first start at Laytown. 'Geo' as he is affectionately known to his trainer English, has never previously been rated low enough to run on the beach. The ten-time winner has dropped to a mark of 80 making him eligible to compete tonight.
Geo is familiar with both the venue and the terrain, his trainer uses the local Mornington strand as a schooling ground. To keep things fresh, Geo and some of his stablemates occasionally gallop on Laytown beach too. Albeit working the opposite way to how they will race later.
There are plenty of familiar faces in action, with four course and distance winners running. It's pretty incredible given there are only six races at Laytown annually. Tyrconnell could provide Sarah Lynam with a welcome winner having shown glimpses of his former self last time out at Fairyhouse.
While a record-breaker of renown, Joseph O'Brien has his first runners at the beach. That completes the set of 26 Irish with runners for the Melbourne Cup-winning trainer.