Monday 24 June 2019

Art teacher Paula is top of the class in style stakes

Paula Gannon from Athlone, Co Roscommon, during day three of the Leopardstown Festival at Leopardstown Racecourse in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Paula Gannon from Athlone, Co Roscommon, during day three of the Leopardstown Festival at Leopardstown Racecourse in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Sisters Therese and Carita Conway from Castleconnell at the Limerick Festival
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

It was all about the style stakes on the third day of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, with art teacher Paula Gannon crowned Most Stylish Lady.

The Athlone mother of two designs hats during the school holidays, with her own creation ensuring she was crowned most stylish among racegoers.

With judges keeping an eye out for Irish design on the day, Paula ticked all the boxes in a purple Vivienne O'Connor two-piece outfit, complemented by jewellery from Katie Mullally.

It wasn't Paula's first win when it came to her chic wardrobe. She has twice scooped the best-dressed lady title at Kilbeggan.

"It's my first win here in Leopardstown so I am very excited. I have won a couple before and I am just so excited," she said.

Paula said there was nowhere better to display her hat-making skills than at a race meeting.

"The best place to showcase them is the races. I'm an art teacher Monday to Friday, September to June, and then during the summer I do a few pieces - I don't work a lot but I do bits and pieces," she said.

Meanwhile, PJ McCague from Co Monaghan walked away with the men's title. Unlike Paula, his win was a first - and completely accidental.

"I never even came with the intention of entering it. I am here babysitting my grandson and I was made to tidy myself up before I came and this is what happened. I'll take it," he laughed.

The Clones man looked dapper in a tweed suit with blue shirt and orange tie and matching handkerchief.

"It's a McGee suit and I have had it a long time, it never fails - that's why you should invest in McGee," he added.

Meanwhile, as 15,559 racing fans descended on the racecourse yesterday, there was an emotional element to the first race of the day as the horse Niccolai featured, owned by the parents and sibling of the late Niccolai Schuster.

The Dublin man (21) lost his life in the Berkeley balcony collapse tragedy in 2015 which claimed the lives of four other Irish students and another young Irish-American woman.

Last year, the Nick Schuster Racing Club syndicate reigned supreme in the Horse and Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle with horse Ellie Mac the first past the post.

Yesterday, the horse Niccolai was ridden by Rachael Blackmore and while there wasn't a win for them in the first race of the day, Ms Schuster told the Irish Independent "it is a nice way" to remember Niccolai. "We have had a lot of fun with (horse) Ellie (Mac) so far and so hopefully with Nicc we will have a lot of fun as well."

In the feature race of the day, the Savills Chase, it was the Willie Mullins-trained Kemboy who reigned supreme. It was another successful day for the bookies, with more than €1m wagered once more.

Today is the fourth and final day of the festival, the Ryanair Hurdle Day.

Irish Independent

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