IT is not often these days that politicians get told they've got 'The X Factor'.
But, admittedly, pop svengali Louis Walsh may be a bit biased when it comes to a fellow Mayo man.
Amid the swirl of feathered creations, best-dressed wannabes and fame-seeking impromptu warblers, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was feeling a bit envious as he enjoyed a brief soiree at Punchestown.
"I'd like to be able to have his methods of selection and dismissal," sighed Mr Kenny, as he picked up a few tips from 'The X Factor' judge on handling his own 'talent', as well as those pesky opposition hecklers.
"I think we could do that with politicians – we could vote them in and vote them out every week. Wouldn't it be great? I think you'd last though, I think you'd stick it," Walsh quipped.
The Taoiseach was busy doling out the silverware as he handed over the Rabobank Champion Hurdle trophy to the owners of the heavily backed favourite, Hurricane Fly.
Waltzing through the crowds thronging the Co Kildare racecourse, Walsh was serenaded by a few impromptu warblers hoping to catch his eye.
"She thinks she's the next Mary Byrne," he shrugged after one effort. Moments later, Hector O hEochagain tried his luck, booming out a bit of Johnny Cash over the loudspeakers.
Walsh, who was accompanied by fashionista Lisa Fitzpatrick, was tasked with judging who had the 'Fashion Factor' in the Coast Best Dressed Lady competition.
This time, it was the turn of racehorse trainer Philip Rothwell's wife Niamh (33) to swap her mucky jodhpurs for a Philip Treacy black hat, Coast dress and tailored cream Hobbs jacket to land a shopping spree with €1,000 to spend in Coast's stores in London, Madrid and New York. "Philip was definitely more interested in his runner, but he might change his mind when he looks at the prize," said the mother-of-three, as the horse trained by her husband, Saoirse Dun, romped home second in her race.
"I spend every day in a pair of jodhpurs and boots with horse dung up to my ears, so it is quite nice to get dressed up for a day."
And it is not often you have to bring a repair kit to ensure your dress doesn't go pop.
There were plenty of heads turning as Laura Whitty (16), from Gorey, Co Wexford walked by in a black and white dress made up of 3,888 balloon bubbles which were woven together by her twin brother Niall.
Another racegoer, milliner Sarah McGahon, revealed that her latest creation – a giant diamond encrusted three-foot a treble clef – could soon be spotted atop the head of Lady Gaga on stage. "Her costume designer in London told me she really liked it and she wanted it.
"Of course I had to gift it to her, as you do," she added.
Laughter could still be heard echoing from the jockeys weighroom after Kerry jockey Bryan Cooper (20) was declared Ireland's sexiest sportsman after a vote held by 'RSVP'.
"I think when the lads found out about it they thought it was a bit of craic. I'm getting a lot of slagging," he blushed.