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Saturday 17 November 2018

Holman-Lee will not judge Best Dressed competition

NIAMH HORAN

Model agency boss Celia Holman-Lee will not be judging this year's Best Dressed Lady competition at the Punchestown Racing Festival.

The news follows last year's controversy when a model at Ms Holman-Lee's agency, 24-year-old Lorraine Nolan from Carlow, won the contest while Ms Holman-Lee was one of the judges.

Competition organisers have now amended the rules for this year's contestants to exclude individuals who are linked to the fashion world and anyone who has any form of relationship with any of the judges.

Ms Holman-Lee said that she was unavailable to judge the competition at Punchestown, taking place this Friday, because she has to attend the wedding of close friend and television star Sinead Desmond.

The model boss is jetting off to the picturesque region of Bordeaux, France, this Thursday with dozens of Irish socialites to see the TV presenter tie the knot with Davy Ryan in the French village of Aubeterre.

Ms Holman-Lee said she was asked to critique the style at this year's ladies' day but her diary had already been pre-booked.

But the changes to the competition rule book come as sources close to another Best Dressed Lady competition on Derby day at the Curragh racecourse said that it is "very doubtful" Ms Holman-Lee will be employed to judge at that competition, which will be held later this year.

Controversy also surrounded that event at last year's Curragh when it emerged the same model won the Best Dressed Lady that day, while Ms Holman-Lee was one of the judges.

At the time, the Limerick-based agency boss said that, at Punchestown, she "stood aside" when the final decision was made to award the brunette the €5,000 prize.

And commenting on controversy at the Curragh race day, she said she regretted not telling her fellow judges that the woman who won the prize is employed as a model at her agency.

"There was just so much negative publicity surrounding the event afterwards and it's important to keep a distance from that this year," said a source.

At the time of the controversy, Ms Holman-Lee, who runs one of the longest-established and most respected modelling agencies in Ireland said she "has been in this business for 40 years".

Meanwhile, the model boss has taken to upping her promotional work in recent months, appearing on furniture advertisements and posters for Viviscal, a product that helps people with thinning hair.

Speaking about her decision to take on the role, she said: "My hair has been dragged and torn from all the years of ironing the bejaysus out of it.

"Viviscal sent me the product to try for a month and I thought it was fantastic. My hair hasn't been this full in 20 years."

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