Style stakes high on Curragh catwalk
THOSE seeking a bit of sartorial savvy from the lady famed for her big hats were left a tad disappointed.
There were ladies sporting hat-inators, fascinators and bizarrely aerodynamic floral creations atop their heads around every corner.
Yet, there was no appearance by the lady in question -- Queen Elizabeth -- amid slight hopes she might deliver an encore and fly to Co Kildare to watch her top horse in action at the glamorous Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.
"Ma'am would have been a bit disappointed," came the tongue-in-cheek drawl from one wag, after the queen's horse, the 5/4 favourite Carlton House, failed to deliver the expected financial windfall for the vast majority of the 21,700 people at the Curragh Racecourse.
Instead, it was a case of deja vu as Ballydoyle's maestro Aidan O'Brien delivered a one-two-three as he took the majority of the €1.25m race pot for the sixth year on the trot.
"We feel really privileged and grateful that the queen decided to let her horse come today. It meant a lot to us all. He (Carlton House) was the form horse," the quietly spoken Mr O'Brien said after the second-favourite Treasure Beach won the race.
"She met everybody. I think for the two countries it meant an awful lot."
Nearby, solicitor to the stars Gerald Kean was waxing lyrical about jinxing the horse in the third race who was "still running" after he put a few bob down.
Mr Kean said his fiance, Lisa Murphy, was "coming along fine" after the pair fell victim to thugs who stole €1.5m worth of jewellery from their home -- including a €500,000 engagement ring from her former partner, 'Riverdance' star Michael Flatley.
The masked raiders, armed with a knife, left her tied to a chair in her bedroom for two hours after threatening to cut off her finger. Mr Kean said he believed the valuable jewellery was "not gone abroad" as he praised the work of the gardai.
He also applauded the good publicity the country had garnered abroad from the queen's visit. "Weather is everything. This is what the country needs," he said.
Other familiar faces in the crowd included rugby pundit Brent Pope, RTE newsreader Anne Doyle and TV3 presenter Alan Hughes.
In the champagne bar, David Keoghan, the husband of award-winning 'PS I Love You' author Cecilia Ahern, was still celebrating their horse's Royal Ascot win. He generally abstains from backing his own horses because if they "win, that is where the money is".
This time, Mr Keoghan's syndicate horse, Great Huzzar, which he owns with Boyzone's Ronan Keating, failed to flash past the post in the last race of the day.
Nearby, some of the crowd were busy tucking into fish and chips from the famed Ballymaloe as they perused the €8 and under dishes in the Good Food Ireland Village.
But TV chef Rachel Allen had swapped her cook's hat for a headpiece by Irish milliner Edel Ramberg to judge the Most Stylish Lady Competition, with a five-star holiday to Dubai on offer.
She said it had been a "hard decision" with the style stakes high as the judges plucked financier Niamh Canavan, who lives in London but is from Gorey in Wexford, from the crowd.
It was second-time lucky for the winner as she had worn her fitted outfit to Ascot, with her Philip Treacy pink hat picked up on sale for €1,000 and her pink, polka-dot jacket and dress from Portlaoise designer Heidi Higgins.
And, for a change there wasn't a strutting, handshaking presidential candidate in sight.
Maybe they thought the pickings were a little more fulsome a few miles up the road where the GAA passions were peaking on the pitch.