Sunday 26 January 2020

Ladies brave rain to shine at races

Margaret Mulvihill, left, Therese Geraghty, Colette Reynolds and Wendy Louise Knight from Longford. Picture credit: Damien Eagers
Margaret Mulvihill, left, Therese Geraghty, Colette Reynolds and Wendy Louise Knight from Longford. Picture credit: Damien Eagers
Kirsty Campbell from Carlow. Picture credit: Damien Eagers
Best Dressed winner Audrey Ryan. Picture credit: Damien Eagers
Aisling Reynolds, left, Caoimhe O’Callaghan and Annemarie Phelan from Kildare. Picture credit: Damien Eagers
Charleen, left, Ciara and Lisa Keegan, from Crumlin. Picture credit: Damien Eagers
Aisling Sheridan, left and Barbara Halliday, from Cavan. Picture credit: Damien Eagers

Sean O'Grady

The ladies of Punchestown had a lot to contend with, however freezing temperatures and grey skies were not going to deter this gathering of dedicated fashionistas.

Unfazed by the biting wind, local lady Audrey Kelly donned a baby-pink top and matching trousers to be named the Best Dressed Winner on the day and will go forward to the finale on Friday.

"I thought it was a bit too nippy for a dress," she said, adding: "I think the judges were looking for something a little different this year."

And the canny Kildare native clearly did her homework.

Hearing that 2fm's Lottie Ryan was to be the celebrity judge, she dressed accordingly.

"The fact that Lottie was a judge...I knew she would be looking for something quirky," said Audrey.

"I follow her on social media and I keep an eye on her style so I thought this would be something she would like."

And Audrey certainly played her cards right as her stylish pair of wide-legged trousers stood out amid a sea of dresses.

The blonde beauty is looking ahead to the summer, when she will tie the knot with fiancé Tim Grace.

But when it came to the action on the track, it was a wash-out for the hordes of punters.

More than 18,000 racing fans descended on Punchestown for the second day of the festival - among them Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary and former Ireland international footballer Niall Quinn.

Many had harboured hopes of recouping some of their losses from the opening day on Tuesday, however it was not to be.

Much to the punters' chagrin, Punchestown Gold Cup favourite Cue Card only managed to finish fourth as Barry Geraghty powered home on Carlingford Lough to win in comprehensive fashion.

A beaming Geraghty heaped praise on Carlingford Lough's trainer, John Kiely describing him as "brilliant".

"He's done an amazing job with this horse to win the Galway Plate, here as a novice, two Gold Cups at Leopardstown and here today.

"It was a brilliant training performance," he declared.

And for Kiely, the Punchestown win was a childhood ambition come true.

"I've been coming to Punchestown since 1948, when I was here as a child, and this is a never-again experience in my life. But once is lovely.

"He's the best I've trained and the best I will train," a delighted Kiely added.

And the win was all the sweeter given Kiely almost decided not to enter Carlingford Lough into the Gold Cup at all. However, slipping under the punters' and bookies' radars meant less pressure in the run-up to the race.

"It's brilliant and it was easier today because he wasn't fancied.

"Nobody seemed to think much about him, so we were even contemplating whether we should be here," admitted Kiely. "I'd have been delighted to have been placed. I didn't expect to win.

"He's very easy to train. You just keep him well and that's it and almost anybody can ride him," said Kiely, adding the mount "has that bit of class".

Irish Independent

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