It all comes up roses for ladies who go that extra furlong
PREACHER Lora Beth Malloy was a winner all right at Killarney Races Ladies' Day yesterday.
The 41-year-old American had never been at a race meeting before, nor had she ever dreamed about winning a prize for the best-dressed lady at the event.
The Christian preacher, who has worked in Ireland for the last eight years and recently moved to Killarney, was persuaded to go along by her boyfriend.
Lora Beth bought her dress at home in Hominy, Oklahoma, on a visit to the US for Thanksgiving Day but only put the finishing touches to the ensemble in Tralee two weeks ago.
"I've never been to a horse race before in my life and a girl from Oklahoma wouldn't know what to wear," she told the Irish Independent.
"My boyfriend told me it didn't matter. He said true beauty shines, you have a fabulous walk and just go and enter."
Lora Beth, who is part Osage and part Cherokee Indian, bought her dress for $89 (€126). She always felt it needed a little something to bring the whole thing together and brought the cropped black jacket in Debenhams in Tralee last week for €68.
"The hat was the icing on the cake," she revealed. "I went into TK Maxx in Tralee looking for a black hat and they had only two. I tried on the first one and I asked another customer for her opinion. She told me to go with the first one, that I could carry it. It cost €26."
Judges Lisa Fitzpatrick and Brendan Courtney said they were not just looking for a stylish outfit. They were also looking for something that little bit different with an owner who had a story to tell.
"The standard was extremely high; it was extraordinary. We went out looking for someone who was creative and did not take the whole thing too seriously," Fitzpatrick said.
Courtney said they were both singing off the same hymn sheet in this regard.
"It was not all about the lady with the biggest budget either. One of our finalists bought her outfit 15 years ago and that's very inspiring that the quality has stood the test of time," he said.
More than 5,500 people attended yesterday's race meeting in Killarney, the final day in the four-day festival.
There were plenty of racing stalwarts studying the form. Former ceann chomhairle John O'Donoghue caught up with old colleague and retired Cork East deputy Ned O'Keeffe.
"Be sure and tell them you bumped into two pensioners," Mr O'Keeffe said.
Former agriculture minister Joe Walsh was also spotted on the race course earlier in the week.
Racing veteran Donie Sheahan (85) had his first winner at the Killarney Races back in the 1940s but his best has been For Bill, which ran last winter and will be on course again in the autumn.
"It's changed a lot since the first one. It's all computers now but a day at the races is still very enjoyable," Mr Sheahan said.