Friday 24 October 2014

Football bosses, tycoons and power couples flock for a flutter to Punchestown

Eimear Rabbitte

Published 01/05/2014 | 02:30

Jackie Lavin and Bill Cullen
Racegoers Lisa Humphrey and Ciara Keegan. Gareth Chaney
Wednesday 30 April 2014. Punchestown Races, Jackie Lavin.
Wednesday 30 April 2014. Punchestown Races, Jackie Lavin.

FOOTBALL bosses, business tycoons and some head-turning WAGs – it was business as usual on day two of the Punchestown racing festival.

Grey skies and a strong wind chill did not deter some fashionable ladies who sported quirky head-pieces and bare legs, but the festival was hit with a poor turnout as 15,478 arrived on a cloudy Wednesday, nearly 1,000 down on last year.

It was a good day for champion jockey Barry Geraghty, who claimed victory in the day's Grade 1 race, and his glamorous wife Paula Geraghty was in winning form, turning out in a black and white check outfit.

The couple are eagerly awaiting this Saturday, when they will mark the end of the racing season with a no-holds-barred bash on Punchestown racecourse.

The annual event is the only opportunity for the country's jockeys to really let their hair down and Paula already has her outfit picked out for the occasion.

Former Liverpool boss Roy Evans was remaining optimistic about his old club's chances of winning this year's Premier League as he flew over from the UK especially for the Kildare racing festival.

"I was asked over and I don't get here very often so I am glad I came," he said.

Businessman Charlie Chawke said he was a long time off retirement as he turned out to support his former Arkle-winning horse, Forpadydeplasterer – partly owned by the publican.

"He is retired but they brought him down to show him off here," explained Chawke.

Asked if he would be betting big on the horses, Chawke added: "There are no big bets any more, the Government and the banks have taken all our money."

Power couple Jackie Lavin and Bill Cullen were putting their banking woes behind when they turned up for a gamble on the races. The indebted pair enjoyed an afternoon off from their car dealership as they made their way into a private suite.

"We just took the afternoon off, we are only down the road," said Jackie, who wore her glossy blonde locks around her shoulders and sported a cream and powder blue outfit.

The partner of former 'Apprentice' star Bill Cullen did not hold back on the reality of the couple's financial woes and also labelled the outcome of this week's Anglo banking trial as a "disgrace".

"It seems to be one rule for them and another for the rest of us," she said.

Speaking about their current financial predicament, Lavin added: "Our issues are going to be ongoing for years and years – unfortunately there's no quick fix."

The sunshine which graced Tuesday's festival opener was nowhere to be seen, but there was plenty of banter and betting on the course as the five-day festival continued with gusto.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will make his way to the Kildare racecourse today as he gears up to present the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle with champion mare Quevega gunning to take the title for a fifth year running.

Irish Independent

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