One of the biggest spectator events in the racing calendar will take places behind closed doors this week as the Galway Races get underway with no spectators, but clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer insists it's crucial that the festival goes ahead.

In an ordinary year, Wyer and his colleagues would be preparing to welcome up to 150,000 people through the gates at Ballybrit but this year is anything but ordinary.

The Covid-19 pandemic means that when the first race gets underway it will be in front of empty stands but for Wyer, just getting the races on is a reason for pride.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, he said: "There’s no doubt it’s strange and we’re very mindful of the people who want to be here and can’t be here, the customers, the owners and the bookies as well.

"We’re mindful of that but I think we have to focus on the positive and the Galway race committee were insistent the that festival go ahead to provide opportunities to allow people to be competitive, so we’ll focus on the positive aspect of that.

"I can only view it from my role and the team on the track. Every year we try to make the track as comfortable for the participants and a good week for us is when horse and rider come home safely.

"We’re focused on that but there’s no question it will be very different.

"I think it’s huge and massive kudos goes to the Galway race committee for buying into it.

"There’s so many strands of the industry that are reliant on racing continuing, from sales to horse food supplies, so many aspects and strands, it’s vitally important.

"It’s great to be racing and it’s very important that we continue to do so."

While the nature of this year’s meeting is extraordinary, the Galway weather is not and a weekend downpour means that the going will be soft when the first race gets underway this evening.

"We walked it at 7am, we had 14mm overnight and probably another three since then so the going for the flat is soft, it’ll be quite testing for flat horses today," he said.

"For national hunt, it’s not too bad, good to yielding but bear in mind we’re not jumping until Wednesday.

"It’s clearing at 9am and it’s dry Monday, Tuesday and a little bit of light rain on Wednesday but overall amounts look to be on the low side for Wednesday."

Watch the first day of the Galway Races on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 5:30pm today.