The Galway Races festival has been dealt a blow after receiving news today that it can admit only 1,000 spectators on each day of its week-long summer festival in two weeks’ time.

Racecourse manager Michael Moloney had expressed hopes that as many as 5,000 people would be able to attend each day.

Officials at Ballybrit had out forward proposals for the largest crowds on an Irish racecourse since March 2020, but organisers have been informed that just the reduced number of 1,000 would be permitted.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, Moloney said: “We got news last night that we will be able to host 1,000 spectators on each day of the summer festival. We know given the support that we’ve got over the last couple of weeks that this will be extremely disappointing news to all our fans who had been looking forward to the opportunity maybe of coming back to Ballybrit this year.

"In terms of our sponsors and everybody that had been working towards a larger crowd at this year's festival, it will be disappointing."

He added: "On the upside it is 7,000 more people than we had this time last year and for those that do manage to get to come to Ballybrit this year we’re delighted we’ll have owners back and now a small amount of public on top of that. We certainly look forward to making it an event that will be worth being at.

The news is very disappointing as it comes on a week where there will be 18,000 spectators at this weekend's Leinster Hurling Final at Croke Park - a venue that can hold 82,300 – and plans to have 36,000 at the All-Ireland Hurling and Football semi-finals on the two weekends that follow the Galway festival.

The news also comes as a blow to Irish racing's hopes of returning to larger crowds at fixtures, since 1,000 spectators were allowed to attend the Curragh's government test event on Irish Derby day last month.

Tracks in Ireland are currently allowed 500 people at meetings, the number permitted for the weekend meetings at the Curragh which stages the Irish Oaks on Saturday.