Thursday 8 December 2016

Kids saddle up to catch Pokémon but Waggs bag the winnings on Day Four

Jane O'Faherty

Published 29/07/2016 | 02:30

Ben (11) and Holly O’Rourke (10) chasing pokemon at the Galway Races yesterday. Photo:Andrew Downes
Ben (11) and Holly O’Rourke (10) chasing pokemon at the Galway Races yesterday. Photo:Andrew Downes

Chocolate, champagne and catching Pokémon were the biggest themes at the Galway Races Ladies' Day this year.

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Gillian Walsh, the wife of jockey Ruby, had plenty to cheer about when Clondaw Warrior galloped across the finish line in the Guinness Galway Hurdle.

A group of friends from Mayo arrive at the racecourse. Photo: Andrew Downes
A group of friends from Mayo arrive at the racecourse. Photo: Andrew Downes

Not only was her husband in the saddle, but Gillian and a group of fellow racing WAGs known as the 'Act D Wagg Syndicate' own the trusty steed.

"We've been having great luck for it and it's brilliant to have won in Galway again - which is always special," she told the Irish Independent.

The victory was tinged with sadness as thoughts turned to late jockey JT McNamara.

"I'm so sad for Caroline McNamara, my heart goes out to her this week. It's been a week of very mixed emotions," Caroline added.

Ilona Ciciala, from Poland, wore a chocolate hat. Photo: Andrew Downes
Ilona Ciciala, from Poland, wore a chocolate hat. Photo: Andrew Downes

Ladies in fancy frocks teetered around the perimeter of the parade ring as committed race fans roared their heads off in the stands.

While the older generation spent their time admiring the fashion, the kids were far more interested in the creatures they hunted on Pokémon Go.

There were big wins for Holly (10) and Ben (11) O'Rourke, who journeyed with their mum Angela from Banbridge to Ballybrit - and Ben's haul could rival that of any punter at the track.

"I've found four so far - two Eevees, one Rattata that I won in Battle Sport and I won a gym - so I'm happy," said Ben.

"It's a win-win," said their mum, who was delighted to be having her day out.

While most punters would have enjoyed a bit more sunshine, Ilona Ciciala (31), from Poland, was delighted with the drop in temperatures, which ensured the survival of her chocolate headpiece.

The final work of art was her third try after the first collapsed and the second had to be dropped after a dress change. The elaborate design was constructed from 600g of dark and white chocolate, and took her a full day to create.

"I am a cake decorator in my spare time, so I thought a hat made of chocolate would be something new," she said.

"I was so afraid of the weather.

"If it was warm my hat might melt - but so far, so good. Dark chocolate is definitely the best for a hat."

People had travelled from all four corners of the country and Hong Kong milliner Irene Yip (37) arrived at the races for some Galway inspiration, travelling over for the event with her husband Michael O'Sullivan.

"I'm getting a lot of ideas - there is a lot more embellishments to hats here than we would traditionally use," she said.

Coral said there was more pain for the punters on Day Four, with spokeswoman Nicola McGeady saying the public's favourites were losing out again.

"It has been two days of heartbreak for punters, with Road To Riches and Superb Story causing the most pain," she said.

"Every man and his dog backed Superb Story, so we are certainly counting our lucky stars that Clondaw Warrior came to the rescue."

RTÉ broadcaster Dáithí Ó Sé was in flying form as he chatted to racing revellers before getting ready for the Rose of Tralee.

"This [the races] is my last big push before I go into serious fitness training before the whole Rose of Tralee kicks off - I have a tux to get into," he joked.

"I know what I am wearing looks well, and people think the waistcoat is for fashion - but it's actually to keep the belly in." Figures were down from last year, with 32,663 attending, compared with 35,214 in 2015.

Irish Independent

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