Friday 24 November 2017

Dana tells neigh-sayers it could yet be a photo finish

Dana
Rosemary
Scallon meets
91-year-old
Roy Spiller,
from Kilkenny,
during her visit
to the races at
Ballybrit in
Galway
yesterday
Dana Rosemary Scallon meets 91-year-old Roy Spiller, from Kilkenny, during her visit to the races at Ballybrit in Galway yesterday

Brian McDonald

IF Dana had been having a parade yesterday, it would have rained on it, seeing as a persistent downpour soaked just about everything else across the west yesterday.

In short, the skies bucketed down from early morning and soaked everyone and everything.

A day for the wellies and brollies, then, but not for Dana Rosemary Scallon. Never mind what the polls were saying, she was determined to keep the better side out and landed in Ballybrit looking a million dollars in her heels and skirt.

As the Irish Independent struggled to write on a saturated notebook, Dana smiled through it all and insisted the presidency was winnable.

But seriously, at 2-3pc in the polls, surely it was beyond her?

"No. I feel better every day with the reception I'm getting. You must realise that I've always been low in the polls -- I was low before I won a seat in the European parliament. Of course I'm confident," she said.

The recognition-factor is certainly in her favour and 91-year-old Roy Spiller, from Kilkenny, wasn't about to miss his chance. His friend, John Nicholson, did the introductions and it made Roy's day to shake the hand of a woman he has long admired.

"Of course, I'm a big fan. I've great respect for her. The rest are just a load of rubbish," Roy declared to the delight of Dana's travelling entourage.

Her friend, Helen Courtney, introduced her to trainer Francis Flood. They had arrived in the nick of time to watch Francis's charge, Wicklow Lad, run in the John Mulholland Bookmakers handicap Hurdle.

Also-rans

Prominent for a long way, Wicklow Lad faded before the straight and finished among the also-rans.

But there were warm greetings from bookmaker Seamus Mulvaney and, in particular, from Aran Islander Stephen Burke, who was delighted to meet Dana and was not inclined to let her hand go for a couple of minutes.

"I told her to keep up the good work and not to mind the negative stuff that has been going on," he said.

Then there was a dash for the cover of the grandstand where even the hardiest of racegoers sought refuge.

Most of the crowd were more intent on studying the form, however, and on the day that was in it, were looking elsewhere for a winner.

Irish Independent

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