Judge Norah tells men to try harder in Leopardstown fashion stakes
SHE'S given up one judging job for another – and the women are beating the men hands down.
Former 'Dragons' Den' judge Norah Casey joined designer Heidi Higgins and Galway-born milliner Mark T Burke on the judging panel at Leopardstown to find the most stylish man and woman.
Over 170 people registered to take part in the fashion event at the famous Lexus Chase day at the Christmas racing festival.
The 'Harmonia' publisher told the Irish Independent she was in search of a classic, comfortable look, with the winner appropriately kitted out for the winter weather – but she said the men needed to pull up their socks.
"We had a lot of new faces. The lads could've tried a lot harder, though," she said.
Ms Casey said she was delighted to put on her racing attire for a day out. It was a nice distraction for the mother of one, who is gearing up to spend a second New Year's Eve without her late husband, Richard Hannaford. A former journalist, Mr Hannaford passed away in October 2011.
"New Year's Eve is actually mine and Richard's wedding anniversary, so I'm not going to sit around at home, I've decided to go out and spend it with a group of friends," she said.
Ms Casey and her fellow judges crowned Geraldine Walsh, from Kinsale, Co Cork, as the Best Dressed Lady.
The mother of four wore a six-year-old cream coat, accessories from Penneys and an orange hat ,which she bought at a vintage boutique in Cork.
Her prize included a feature photoshoot in 'Irish Tatler' magazine and a getaway to Mount Juliet. "I can't believe I won; it was my first time to Leopardstown and my mum and I decided to come up the last minute."
Taking home the Best Dressed Man title was Matt McKenzie-Smith, from Newbridge, Co Kildare.
The 36-year-old wore a tweed jacket from Penneys, a Louis Copeland shirt and brown leather shoes purchased in South Africa.
"I just threw the outfit together, I wasn't intending on entering the competition," he said.
"I was talent-spotted in the crowd. It's brilliant to win it."
A total of 16,409 punters enjoyed the festivities at the south Dublin race course yesterday, compared to the same day 12 months ago where 15,222 turned out.
Bookmakers were up also on last year, taking in €1,412,287 over the afternoon. In 2011, they took in €1,332,856.
The winner of the opening race was John Patrick Byrne, brother of well-known PR agent Joanne Byrne.
Champion jockey Ruby Walsh crossed the finish line first on three occasions and took home the trophy for the Grade 1 Lexus Steeplechase on Tidal Bay.
His sister Katie Walsh congratulated her older sibling.
"It's a good day's racing, I'm delighted for him. The whole day is exciting, it's a great place for racing," she said.
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