Ireland's newest racing festival, The Boyne Valley Racing Weekend, featuring fixtures at Navan and Fairyhouse, has been created to celebrate County Meath’s lavish and historic relationship with the horse.
Festivities start in Navan this coming Saturday, 13 July, with entertainment off track with live music by Paddy Casey after racing. There will also be delicious hospitality options on offer with perfect summer food from the region being served.
The festival continues on Sunday unday 14th July with specific emphasis placed on making the day enjoyable for all with a flat card featuring the Group 3 Brownstown Stakes and ample free entertainment laid on for the kids.
So what exactly is the relationship Co Meath and the horse?
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Evidence of 2,000-year-old carbon dated horse bones from the Boyne Valley Iron Age excavations at Newgrange and Tara in the county show the country’s earliest evidence of the domestication of horses for draught work or indeed racing.
Horse teeth analysed from the site showed evidence of wearing consistent with the usage of a horse 'bit’ to control the animals which are still in use today on bridles.
"Co Meath has arguably more equine history than any other county woven into its amazing heritage over thousands of years"
The new festival will also celebrate ‘all things Meath’ including the county’s rich culture in sport from the surrounding historic Boyne Valley hinterland with horse racing being one of the county’s most popular spectator sports with just over 107,000 people attending race meetings in the county last year.
The long history and heritage of the horse here has led to Co Meath having the second highest number of horses in training in the country after Kildare with 787 of them who battled out for just over €7.7m in prizemoney in the county’s four racing venues last year.
Looking ahead to this weekend, Kate O'Sullivan Marketing Manager for Fairyhouse and Navan Racecourses said: "Co Meath has arguably more equine history than any other county woven into its amazing heritage over thousands of years.
"We felt that we should celebrate it’s relationship with the Boyne Valley in the ‘Royal Country’ within our new racing festival.
"Navan is perfectly placed in the middle of the county by the River Boyne where we’ll have Paddy Casey to help us celebrate after racing.
"Next day in Fairyhouse, the home of Ireland’s favourite race the Irish Grand National, will be a special day for families situated near the village of Ratoath which is the gateway into the county."