Sunday 4 December 2016

Icy showers fail to rain on parade but punters cleaned out

Jane O'Faherty

Published 29/04/2016 | 02:30

RTE presenter Bláthnaid Treacy at the Punchestown festival
RTE presenter Bláthnaid Treacy at the Punchestown festival
Ashleigh Reade from Naas
Leona Skelly from Clane, winner of the Best Dressed Lady prize
Fiona Ruth from Kilkenny
Orlaith Butler, left and Sarah Cass, from Kilkenny

Icy winds, hailstones and torrential rain didn't stop the ladies from putting their best feet forward on Day Three of the Punchestown Racing Festival.

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Leona Skelly (29) from Clane, Co. Kildare, came first in the Best Dressed competition, impressing judges with a beautiful green and grey skirt paired with a Zara jumper.

Speaking after her win, Leona said she chose to wear the warm top at the "last minute".

"The first option was a lovely summer outfit, a pink coat and a white dress," she said.

"I actually have a long-sleeved top underneath the top and a string top underneath that," she added. "If I could have worn leggings, I would have." Leona's mum owns Heavenly boutique in Clane, where she sourced her hat, fur coat, bag and shoes.

RTÉ presenter Bláthnaid Treacy led the judging panel, and said Leona "looked comfortable and looked like she was expressing her own personality."

Meanwhile, Sarah Cass from Gorn, Co. Kilkenny, chose a white and red retro dress for the third day of the Bollinger Best Dressed Lady competition.

"It's nice and warm for today - nice and heavy," she told the Irish Independent. "I'm not really able for the cold weather so I always try to wear something warm."

There was less luck for the Irish in the most valuable race of the day, as the favourite Alpha des Obeaux lost out to One Track Mind in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers hurdle.

But punters breathed a sigh of relief as the Willie Mullins-trained Douvan claimed a hat-trick after his previous wins at Cheltenham and Aintree.

The favourite, ridden by Ruby Walsh, stormed ahead of competition in the Ryanair Novice Steeplechase.

Asked if Douvan could get any better, Mr Mullins replied: "I hope so."

"He's a big, immature horse with a huge, big frame. He could get stronger over the summer," he said. "But as long as he stays sound, I'm happy with him."

The poor weather and scant victories for favourites failed to dampen the bookies' spirits.

Nicola McGeady of Coral said: "The miserable weather is certainly reflecting punters' moods this afternoon."

"All three days of the festival have been carnage for punters, and tomorrow, punters will be praying that they can claw it back with the help of My Tent Or Yours in the feature race," she added.

A total of 16,978 attended the third day of the Punchestown Festival.

Irish Independent

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