Punters dressed to impress but fall out of favour with fortune
THEY were holding on tight to their wallets and even tighter to those pesky hemlines.
Of course, some punters were enjoying the chilly gusts causing havoc with hair and skirts at the Co Kildare racetrack more than others.
"I'm cold, sorry," smiled television star Sile Seoige, who determinedly refused to take off her snug-looking trench coat to show off her ensemble.
With just a few more goosebumps on show, Gillian Quinn, in a short tailored Vivienne Westwood dress, accompanied by Sunderland chairman husband Niall and daughter Ashling (17), strolled in through the turnstiles as the second day of the festival kicked-off.
"It's great to support our local track, the racecourse is only a mile down the road from us," Niall said. "I hope the English trainers don't go home with all the money."
There were sports stars aplenty, from former Dublin player Jason Sherlock to pundit Chris Kamara and Sunderland manager Steve Bruce.
Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds was on the hunt for tips as he made a beeline for the Longford GAA fundraising tent. "Ah, I'll be coming racing a few more days," he said.
But it was the turn of the Rogers and Dooly families from Tramore, Co Waterford, to celebrate after Oneeightofamile came romping home in the Martinstown Handicap Hurdle for the Plan Zee syndicate.
"I tried to sell him five times," Noel Dooly said with a smile on his face. "I paid €26,000 for him as a foal in Goffs."
Barry Rogers revealed the horse had been lucky since they named him after his wife, Sinead Furlong.
"I was blown away by the style, there were lovely touches from the gloves to the parasols," Seoige revealed, as it came time to select the Arnott's Best Dressed Ladies winner of the day.
It was a vintage 1940s catsuit picked up for €150 at a fair from Gladys vintage shop in Tullamore, Co Offaly, which swung it for new graduate Ciara Devitt (25), from Shankill, Co Dublin.
"I got my inspiration from Audrey Hepburn and I rented the Philip Treacy hat for €70 from Aristohats," she said.
Little Fionn, who just turned one, accompanied by mother Annmarie McCormick, was at his first Punchestown to cheer on his uncle, jockey Tony McCoy, who celebrated his 37th birthday in style by delivering 11-4 Street Entertainer first past the post in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle.
And there were thousands who had thronged the track just to catch a glimpse of one of jump racing's most classy performers, the dual-Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kauto Star.
The punters felt it wasn't a final swansong from the 11-year-old as they put their faith and money on to the Paul Nicholls-trained contender who was sent off 10-11 favourite for the Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup.
Yet jockey Ruby Walsh made the difficult decision to pull Kauto Star and the 20-1 shot Follow The Plan delivered the biggest ever win for the McKiernan family from Rathcoole, Co Dublin. "It is a surprise which is all the sweeter," said trainer Oliver McKiernan, as Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney presented him with the Gold Cup.
The punters were counting their losses though, as more than €750,000 was bet on Kauto Star. William Hill took one €10,000 bet from a punter in Dublin.
As the massive crowd of 17,000 racegoers headed home all but the most astute were counting up those cents for another battle with the bookies.