Monday 24 July 2017

O'Leary flies high with Lexus win and says there's no bad blood with Mullins

Michael O’Leary and wife Anita with jockey Jack Kennedy after Outlander won the Lexus Chase. Picture: Damien Eagers
Michael O’Leary and wife Anita with jockey Jack Kennedy after Outlander won the Lexus Chase. Picture: Damien Eagers

Sean O'Grady

It was the end of Willie Mullins's winning streak on day three of the Leopardstown racing festival as Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary took home the big win.

Cork man O'Leary was pleased when Outlander came out on top in the Grade 1 Lexus Steeplechase on the penultimate day of the racing event.

Sunny skies lifted punters' moods around the parade ring and in the stands.

And Mr O'Leary said he was thrilled to have netted a win on the penultimate race day.

"Having three days of seeing my colours finish down at the other end of the parade ring, any one of them would have done fine," he told the Irish Independent.

"I thought three of the horses coming to the last would all fall with the week we're having here. But it's great, these are the races we really go after.

"I struggled to win the Lexus for 10 years or more and now I've won three in a row so it's great."

While he no longer works with top trainer Mr Mullins, Mr O'Leary insisted there's no bad blood.

"I have loads of horses and Willie has plenty of other owners. It's just business. I don't mind spending lots of money on the horses but I want to keep the training fees down," he said.

"Willie is a genius trainer and that will not be news to anybody. He's demonstrated here all week what a good trainer he is. These are just business decisions. I have a hobby to run and I try to fund it as best I can with my very low air fares."

Co Kerry jockey Jack Kennedy (17) was thrilled with his win.

Read more: Jack Kennedy cajoles Outlander to Lexus Chase glory at Leopardstown

"I don't know how to describe it, it's great, I'm delighted. I couldn't have asked for anything much better. I was happy the whole way and the horse dug deep," he said.

There were several familiar faces in the crowd. Comedian Pat Shortt admitted he "lost a lot of money" at the festival but was delighted when his luck began to change.

The Tipperary man, who lives in Limerick, is up in Dublin visiting his relatives over the festive period and decided to take advantage of the races.

"It's great. I have a lot of family in Dublin so I'm up visiting them for Christmas. I have lost a lot of money in the first few races but I won on the Lexus so I'm delighted with that. It's been a fantastic day out.

"Today is my first and only day here and then back down to Limerick tomorrow.

"I wouldn't be a huge race person. It's a day out. My brother's family are here as well so we are all out," he said.

Shortt is gearing up for a busy 2017 which will see him set off on his 'How's Things' tour in January.

The comedian hopes to bring the show abroad with plans to travel to Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

Festival attendance remained strong with 16,722 punters attending across the day, a slight increase from the 16,466 on the same day last year.

Irish Independent

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