Mad Hatters cap off great week for bookies at Galway Races
DEVILS for punishment. Another 12,000 of them pushed their way through the Ballybrit turnstiles yesterday, all seemingly intent on making contributions to the Friendly Society of Needy Bookmakers.
It wasn't as if the bulging satchels needed further fattening but just to send the layers home with an even wider smile, up popped 33/1 shot Venture Lazarus in the very first race of the day to round off their Galway week very nicely, thank you very much.
The only punters who were left with anything to cheer about were the winning connections -- the O'Toole family from Oughterard.
"We had a few bob on at 80/1," one confirmed before being hauled off to the celebrations.
Also celebrating yesterday were 18 young women from Tralee, all having a last blowout for bride-to-be Ciara O'Brien who ties the knot with boyfriend Peter O'Regan on September 9.
Milliner Antoinette O'Mahoney, from Abbeydorney, made an appropriate pea-hen hat for Ciara's party and she cut quite a dash among the dozens of contestants in the annual Mad Hatters competition.
And one eager contender clearly stumbled into the wrong sporting event, with golf clubs and Irish major winners featuring on top.
In the end, the judges opted for one of the very few male entrants. Emmet Craven, from Ardrahan, won the prize of a weekend away thanks to an extraordinary creation that looked like a cross between an Indian head-dress and a giant fish-tail, topped off with a pair of goggles.
And if you were smart enough to read the signals, then you would not have missed backing the John 'Shark' Hanlon-trained Trucker's Delight in the featured €45,000 Connacht Tribune Handicap Steeplechase.
The near 150,000 punters who had thronged the enclosures all week pushed the betting figures to almost €17m over the seven days. That was almost €2m down on last year -- but given the state of the economy, nobody in Galway was complaining.