Thursday 29 September 2016

Rachel sparkles as singer leads style stakes at Derby

Published 26/06/2016 | 02:30

Ruth O’Neill and Rachel Stevens. Photo: Anthony Woods
Ruth O’Neill and Rachel Stevens. Photo: Anthony Woods

Dripping in €40,000 worth of diamonds, singer and TV star Rachel Stevens led the style stakes at this year's Dubai Irish Duty Free Race Day at the Curragh yesterday.

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Dressed in a black-and-white Self Portrait dress, a black feathered headpiece by LK millinery, and Valentino shoes accompanying the Boodles jewellery, the star of RTE's The Voice of Ireland was joined by the elegant model agency boss Celia Holman Lee, RTE presenter Anne Cassin, former newsreader Anne Doyle, presenter Gay Byrne, Leinster player Luke McGrath and 400 other guests in the VIP tent for the annual racing festival.

Pink champagne flowed to the sounds of a string quartet as high-profile names from the judiciary and the worlds of politics, business, sport and fashion enjoyed the action on and off the track.

Fresh from a holiday with her husband Ger in the south of France, Ms Holman Lee was dressed in a hat by Kerry designer Carol Kenneally and a dress by Limerick designer Ela Maria and was sticking to her lifetime fashion policy of buying "Irish-only".

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, she said: "I never ever buy clothes abroad. All my life, it's been the same. I just feel we have amazing talent here, so why go anywhere else?"

Seated next to her, Annette Rocca, wearing a Carven ensemble and Mad Hatters feathered headpiece in cobalt blue, was looking forward to taking some time out in Marbella, while joking that her son is among the army of Irish Leaving Cert students heading to Magaluf after his summer exams: "I am dreading it, but I'm hoping they'll be fine because there's a large group going together, so fingers crossed," she laughed.

Caroline O’Connell and Annette Rocca
Caroline O’Connell and Annette Rocca

With Rory McIlroy's recently won Irish Open trophy proudly displayed in the corporate tent, the Irish Executive vice chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free Colm McLoughlin said he was thrilled with the impressive turnout.

In all, a near record-breaking 20,000 people came through the turnstiles: "It's our ninth year to hold the title sponsorship of the Irish Derby and every year, it just gets bigger and better."

"We have always wanted to create a festival atmosphere both on and off the track and last night's ball and today's lunch has assured that."

From the sporting world, Lester Piggott and Irish showjumper Greg Broderick, who is representing Ireland in the Olympic Games, listened on as jockey Pat Smullen gave a sparkling rundown of the day's racing. He predicted that his mount Hazand would complete a momentous double by winning the Irish Darby as well as the English equivalent. He was right and the Aga Kan's horse triumphed on a blue ribbon day at the Curragh.

Gay Byrne and Kathleen Watkins
Gay Byrne and Kathleen Watkins

Sunday Independent

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