Celebrities add a bit of sparkle to Gold Cup
Pop stars, designers and politicians -- and Jordan -- enjoy a punt with major festival 'bankers' coming up trumps
THERE was nothing subtle about this arrival.
Heads spun 180 degrees and camera shutters popped at lightning speed as glamour model Jordan cut a colourful figure swanning through the tweedy racing crowd.
The punters parted in waves as Jordan -- aka Katie Price -- teetered along on pink stilettos accompanied by her new boyfriend Leandro Penna and her two blonde-quiffed 'bessie' mates.
"I'm not interested in photographs," she managed to mutter through her immobile pout.
"Why keep tweeting where you're going to be then?" asked one exasperated photographer.
After a dearth of famous faces during the first few days of the Cheltenham Festival, there were plenty of celebs on the A, B and Z list to catch the eye on the glamorous Gold Cup day.
A similar frenzy erupted in the parade ring before the first race as popstar-turned-retailer Lily Allen perused her racecard.
"I've 40 quid to play with in each race and maybe a hundred for the Gold Cup," she said, but kept her selections close to her chest.
Cutting another swathe through the crowd was Irish designer Paul Costelloe, while seconds later there was a slightly more subdued appearance from Fine Gael TDs Lucinda Creighton and John Paul Phelan.
There had been plenty of the political 'old guard' milling around -- including former FF Minister for Agriculture Joe Walsh and the former EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy -- but there had been little sign of the whipper-snapper newbies.
"How do you guys always find me?" Lucinda asked waiting photographers before posing for a quick snap.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was also reluctant to engage, keeping mum about all matters involving the round ball ahead of the much-awaited Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Co Offaly singer Mark Boylan (13) was more forthcoming -- expressing his delight after Jordan asked him to sing 'The Festival', the song he wrote about Cheltenham.
And amid all the glamour, there was the small matter of a few horse races, too.
Punters had plenty to celebrate early on after the well-backed UK-trained Zarkander landed the spoils in the JCB Triumph Hurdle Race.
It took Carlow trainer Willie Mullins to deliver the Irish trainers their 11th win of the festival when Final Approach flashed past the post for Irish businessman Douglas Taylor.
Mr Taylor is the man behind the extraordinary €200,000 betting coup pulled off at Kilbeggan racecourse last year.
The managing director of the MCR Group organised 200 people to place €200 bets in shops around the country on a horse he part-owned.
He'd had a bit of a bet on Final Approach, Mr Taylor admitted with a smile yesterday, with plans mooted to continue the party in Manzor's pub in Clane, Co Kildare.
Despite the furore over RTE's 'Prime Time' investigation into the lifestyle of developers, few seemed to recognise one of NAMA's top 10 clients, the Cork developer Michael O'Flynn.
He had travelled to Cheltenham to see his horse, China Rock, contest the Gold Cup.
Mr O'Flynn, the chairman and managing director of O'Flynn Construction, was filmed on the programme travelling to a race meeting at Down Royal to see China Rock in action.
As it was, China Rock was never a real contender in the big one, but plenty of others were.
Once again there were hats being flung in the air after the old heroes -- Denman and Kauto Star steered by the punters' favourite Ruby Walsh -- were in the running as they came up the final hill.
But this time, most of those fickle punters had let their hearts and wallets be led by young favourite 7-2 favourite Long Run who delivered an emotional victory for amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen aboard the horse owned by his father Robert.
Alex Ferguson, who'd been watching the hotly-contested race from the jam-packed parade ring, said he was "delighted" after the horse he co-owns, What A Friend, managed to come in fourth.
"We nearly did a last-minute job again," he mused.
Once again those counting on the Mullins factor -- who helped set a record of 13 wins for Irish trainers at the festival -- were left sated after Ryanair's Michael O'Leary's horse Sir des Champs romped home in the sixth race of the day with the trainer's nephew Emmet Mullins aboard.
Punters had been handed a virtual licence to print money this week with some of the major festival 'bankers', including the now legendary Big Buck's, Hurricane Fly, Quevega and Long Run, all coming up trumps.
It means most should have a few quid in the piggy bank for next year's pilgrimage.