Friday 21 July 2017

After days of ice delays it's back on course outside

Third-place Maria Osborne, from Kilrush, Co Clare, second placed
Suzanne McGarry from Kevinsfort, Co Sligo, and winner Chloe Culleton from New Ross in Co Wexford
Third-place Maria Osborne, from Kilrush, Co Clare, second placed Suzanne McGarry from Kevinsfort, Co Sligo, and winner Chloe Culleton from New Ross in Co Wexford
'Irish Tatler' and Carton House Most Stylish Lady competition judge, RTE's Maura Derrane
Ali Hewson, (right), wife of U2 frontman Bono, came to the Leopardstown Races with her family as is their tradition
Bono's daughter in a grey top gives her boyfriend a kiss in their private box

Ken Sweeney Entertainment Editor

Racing fans starved of action over Christmas finally got their prayers answered yesterday when the annual festival began at Leopardstown.

The four-day meeting had been due to begin on St Stephen's Day but was called off due to the snow, Monday's meeting suffering the same fate.

But at 7.30am yesterday, the races were back on after an inspection by course officials.

"We've been starved of racing right through the month of December, so I think people are just glad to run their horses at this stage," Tom Burke, general manager of Leopardstown Racecourse told the Irish Independent.

More than 10,000 people attended day one of the Christmas festival, numbers well down on the 15,000 who would normally attend a St Stephen's Day meeting.

However, those racegoers that did attend enjoyed what Mr Burke described as "sensational summer weather".

Bono and Ali Hewson, along with their children Jordan, Eve, Elijah Bob and John Abraham, were among the arrivals.

The U2 singer and his wife wished attending lensmen a "Happy Christmas" as they posed for pictures before retiring to a private box overlooking the racecourse.

Eagle-eyed punters spotted Bono on an outside balcony celebrating at least once during the afternoon, so it seems he backed a winner.

Meanwhile in the more down-to-earth bars on the course it wasn't U2 songs being sung, but a certain Christmas hit by a Limerick hip-hop collective called Rubberbandits.

"F*** your Honda Civic. I've A Horse Outside," punters joyfully shouted at one another -- but the numbers of cars parked up at Leopardstown yesterday seemed to tell a different story.

Out on the track, horse Pandorama claimed the feature Lexus Chase ridden in impressive style for jockey Paul Carberry.

This proved to be quite a surprise as the seven-year-old hadn't finished in a full race in well over a year.

"I knew he would do it because he was travelling well and jumping well.

"It was great to win," Carberry said.

Trainer Willie Mullins saddled Mourad to win the woodiesdiy.com Christmas Hurdle at 2pm to give him a double on the card, having unleashed a possible future star in the 12.20pm Madigans Maiden Hurdle as horse So Young made a winning debut in Ireland.

Bostons Angel caused a bit of a shock in the Grade One Ballymaloe Country Relish Fort Leney Novice Chase at 1.25pm when winning for in-form trainer Jessica Harrington with jockey Robert Power.

Irish Independent

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