Saturday 22 July 2017

O'Leary takes home the gold in Fairyhouse fight to finish

Michael O’Leary celebrates with his wife Anita and their children Zac (6), Luke (10), Tiana (7) and Matt (11). Photo: Doug O'Connor
Michael O’Leary celebrates with his wife Anita and their children Zac (6), Luke (10), Tiana (7) and Matt (11). Photo: Doug O'Connor

Sean O'Grady

Easter bonnets and last-minute tumbles kept crowds entertained at Fairyhouse Easter Festival.

Punters crowded into the stands and bars to hide from rain showers.

All eyes were on the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Steeplechase that saw Road To Respect edge out hot favourite Yorkhill.

Willie Mullins's most formidable racer had a disastrous jump that saw Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary take home the gold.

Speaking in the parade ring after his win, Mr O'Leary admitted the superior horse lost.

"I'm delighted. We won a great one, to be fair we won a great one we didn't deserve to win. The best horse finished second but everybody knew coming here we all had a chance because he jumps out to the left," he told the Irish Independent.

Aoife McCrane, of Ashbourne, Co Meath. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Aoife McCrane, of Ashbourne, Co Meath. Photo: Doug O'Connor

"Noel Meade (trainer) has done a wonderful job with Road To Respect. His win at Cheltenham was great and we're delighted to win one here."

The businessman celebrated his win with wife Anita and children Matt (11), Luke (10), Tiana (7) and Zac (6).

Easter Sunday also saw Ratoath's own Jake Grogan (8) crowned winner of the Easter Bonnet competition where several children competed to have the best hat on show.

"It took us a good week-and-a-half to do it," his mother Tanya said. "He won a €200 voucher for La Bucca restaurant and a bottle of prosecco for his mum. He's delighted."

Patrick (9) and Raymond Gilburn, of Millstreet, Co Cork. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Patrick (9) and Raymond Gilburn, of Millstreet, Co Cork. Photo: Doug O'Connor

Meath woman Rachel Cherry is an avid race-goer, but she believes there's something special about Fairyhouse.

"My boyfriend Keith Clark is a trainer. He mainly does flats but he has a few jumpers. I go every year. Fairyhouse is local so you always prefer your local track," she said.

Broadcaster Ivan Yates hightailed it from the Newstalk studios to the Meath racecourse so he wouldn't miss a minute of the action.

"I came straight out from Newstalk and jumped into a taxi. I'm here for the two days, I come every year. It's great racing," he said.

The broadcaster (57) is hoping to return to TV3 in the future. Last year he co-hosted the weekend chat shows.

"Yes, hopefully I will be back. I don't know, I have no plans at the moment but we will wait and see," he said.

Sophie Rooney, of Skryne, Co Meath, and Niamh Tormey, of Ratoath, Co Meath. Photo: Doug O’Connor
Sophie Rooney, of Skryne, Co Meath, and Niamh Tormey, of Ratoath, Co Meath. Photo: Doug O’Connor
Winners of the Easter Bonnet competition. Zara McKeigue (6), left, in third place, winner Jake Grogan (8), centre, and Margo Gilbrien (7), second place. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Winners of the Easter Bonnet competition. Zara McKeigue (6), left, in third place, winner Jake Grogan (8), centre, and Margo Gilbrien (7), second place. Photo: Doug O'Connor

Irish Independent

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