Wednesday 21 August 2019

What a gem: Bookies feel heat at Fairyhouse as Ruby sparkles

Colourful crowd: Racegoers Jamie Phipps, Barry Burroughs, Martin Fitzgerald and Ian Yates, from London, were colourfully dressed at Fairyhouse. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Colourful crowd: Racegoers Jamie Phipps, Barry Burroughs, Martin Fitzgerald and Ian Yates, from London, were colourfully dressed at Fairyhouse. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

It was a Ruby Sunday as the Fairyhouse Easter Festival kicked off in the sunshine.

The Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Steeplechase saw Willie Mullins secure a one- two as Ruby Walsh rode Voix Du Reve to victory, with Real Steel coming in second.

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

He has seven runners in the Irish Grand National today - a race he is yet to win.

"Hopefully one of them will win, my father was very lucky in the race, he won it four times. Hopefully, we can get one of them over the line," he said.

"Ruby will be riding Burrows Saint, the horse has only had a couple of runs over fences but statistically novices have a great chance in this type of race."

But it wasn't just on the turf that there were winners called Ruby, with many of the races' youngest attendees showing off their creative abilities in the La Bucca Easter Bonnet competition.

The hat to top them all belonged to local girl Ruby O'Neill (5) from Ratoath. Her mum Suzanne helped her create a Fairyhouse-themed hat. "We have been making it together for the last four weeks. Ruby is very creative and she did loads of it herself," she said.

The hottest Easter Sunday in 10 years was recorded on the course. As the sun shone, 6,100 punters arrived to have a flutter, with the attendance up 17pc on last year.

Kildare bookmaker Darragh Fitzpatrick said it had been a good day for punters, with Ruby Walsh working his magic for them. "The favourites all won, so people go home happy."

Meanwhile, Rachael Blackmore won her first Grade One race on Irish soil.

The 29-year-old rode the Henry de Bromhead-trained Honeysuckle to victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final.

Clinching the elusive Irish Grade One win, Blackmore, from Co Tipperary, said it came with a sense of "relief".

"It is hard enough to get rides in Grade Ones, let alone winners," she added.

But there was disappointment for 'Love Island' star Chris Hughes whose horse Annie Mc was withdrawn from the same race due to a passport stamp issue. The horse is owned by Coral Champions Club, for whom Hughes is a brand ambassador.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News