Belfast Telegraph

Biting Back: We need to utilise our stunning beaches

By Frank Brownlow

Down Royal and Downpatrick, Ulster's two horseracing venues, stage many excellent meetings throughout the year. But surely we are missing a trick.

Today sees the annual meeting at Laytown, the only beach venue in Europe for horseracing.

Some of the finest jockeys in the country – Joseph O'Brien, Pat Smullen and Paul Townend – are booked to ride at the unique event in County Meath.

Ulster has many superb beaches that would be ideal for staging what would be a stunning spectacle and a massive boost for tourism with television beaming pictures of our wonderful scenery throughout Britain, the Republic of Ireland and beyond.

The Giro d'Italia served a similar purpose back in May – even if the weather wasn't quite what we would have hoped for – while the 2012 Irish Open golf championship at Royal Portrush was also said to have provided a big boost for the tourist trade.

Sure, there would be wrangling over racing fixtures and, no doubt, health and safety concerns raised.

But these are all obstacles that could be overcome, particularly with backing from politicians and tourism chiefs.

Portstewart Strand was recently used for filming hit television show 'Game of Thrones'.

So much more drama would be played out there – or on any of our other great beaches – were the sport of kings to be provided with the stage to showcase its undoubted drawing power.

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