On the Hook out for stylish fillies
YOU don't always get what you're looking for. And that can only be a good thing when it comes to rugby pundit George Hook hunting for fashionably attired ladies at Darley Irish Oaks day at the Curragh Racetrack.
Ever hopeful, the radio presenter turned fashion judge admitted he was on the hunt for a Pamela Anderson lookalike in an apron and nine-inch heels.
It was unlikely such a spectacle would grace the Co Kildare track, particularly on a day when brollies were being flourished as more than a frivolous fashion accessory.
"I absolutely love it," the rugby pundit enthused as he surveyed the potential entrants for the Miele Classic Lady Competition. "Where else can I go for three-and-a-half hours and look at girls and no one is going to call me a pervert?"
RTE fashion presenter Sonya Lennon deemed him a "pussycat" after she managed to reach a truce with the outspoken 'fashion expert' on some of the finalists to reach the main stage.
"If Pamela was at the Curragh today she would have been the runaway winner," Hook said.
Hook himself was adamant he was the best man for the job, even if some of the bemused onlookers were beginning to query his credentials after he admitted to being hindered by a problem of 'colour blindness'.
"I think a man is a very good guide for a competition like this because we spend our lives looking at women. I've been looking at women since I was 16, so I feel utterly competent to judge this," he added.
As the duo left the enclave of the Champagne Bar to survey the contestants, elsewhere others were considering their options at the bookies stall.
"A dead cert," one old sage of the racecourse was overheard advising a friend, as they circled Aidan O'Brien's Robin Hood with Johnny Murtagh aboard in the first race of the day.
Yet, it was a poor start for the cash-strapped punters as the firm favourite scraped into second spot, with the Jessica Harrington-trained Pathfork taking the first. And, it was a similar tale of woe in the second.
It was hard to know which way to turn as the action in the main race of the day, the €425,000 Darley Irish Oaks, got under way.
The vuvuzelas may have been missing as the much-touted Snow Fairy, trained by the UK's Ed Dunlop, delivered the goods in the Group One race but the punters' hollers could be heard echoing from the stand.
"She was well-backed all week," Tony Kenny of bookies William Hill said as the filly delivered a double after already landing the English Oaks.
On the main stage, the competition was just hotting up as Liz Maher, from Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, nabbed the top prize of €3,000 worth of Miele appliances in her bright red tailored suit from Heidi Higgins boutique in Portlaoise.
"My washing machine broke down two weeks ago," she said, adding it was 10 years to the day since she last won the best-dressed day at the Curragh.
All eyes were already turning to Galway, as the seven-day festival kicks off at the Ballybrit track next week.
"How are ya, boss?" queried the mac-wearing gent, who turned out to be Galway Racecourse manager John Moloney, as he sailed past Hook. He was mixing 'business with pleasure' at the Curragh, as the track did its final preparations for the five-day endurance test which delivers a multi-million euro boost to the city of Galway.
"We are very excited, entries are good. I think it is going to be dependent on weather," he said.
And with the attendance at yesterday's rainswept meet at the Curragh up by 200 at 6,155, it is surely a good omen for Galway.