Friday 23 March 2018

Win or lose, festival has racegoers jumping for joy

Cavan man keeps shirt but not socks

YOU can't let the little things get in your way at the Galway Races. A string of losses? Never mind, just plough on.

One too many drinks the night before? Plonk an Alka-seltzer into your breakfast coffee and you'll be grand.

Running short on hosiery? Suck it up, just like sockless Shane Kelly did on overcast day three of the races. He was lounging outside the winner's enclosure, looking a bit rough.

It didn't help that he was barefoot inside his shoes.

"I haven't even looked at the horses, just the mojito stand," the 23-year-old from Belturbet, Co Cavan said. He blamed his sockless state on a change of mind he and his pals had early yesterday, after staying in Galway on Monday and Tuesday.

"We were supposed to go home today but we just said, 'Ah, we'll go back to the races.'"

The sock supply didn't stretch that far and €5 was evidently better spent on a minty cocktail.

More distinguished visitors yesterday included Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and his wife Carol Hanney, both Galway natives, who kicked off their holidays with a trip to Ballybrit.

He's a popular man these days is Eamon, grabbing babies and signing autographs for kids in the 19,253 crowd, down 1,193 on the same day last year.

Upon entering the racecourse, he was accosted by Niall Butler from Ballybunion, who was hawking a few turform cards for €6.

There was a brief chat between the two and the Dun Laoghaire TD was given a few tips. Although Mr Gilmore already had his own card, he took one from Mr Butler anyway and it was initially unclear if money had changed hands.

"He gave me €10, I wouldn't let him away with that, I'm Fianna Fail," said Niall afterwards.

And it turns out that his tips weren't that hot either.

"I gave him two losers as well," he added with satisfaction.

The Tanaiste said that after finishing up some odds and ends in work this week and next, he was looking forward to spending time with his brother, nieces and nephews, who are based in the US but are holidaying in Ireland.

"I'll go foreign at some stage, probably mid-August, and I'll just head wherever the mood takes me," he added.

Mr Gilmore is also due at the track for Ladies' Day today and it looks like the sun will be out when the gunai are on show.

In fairness to him, Mr Gilmore shunned the VIP suites and could be seen milling around the grandstands in the lead-up to the big race of the week, the Galway Plate.

Yesterday legendary trainer Willie Mullins won the Plate for the first time with Blazing Tempo, which ended up as the favourite.

"It's one of the iconic races you want to win and I tried hard enough over the years," said Mr Mullins.

Blazing Tempo is one of around 20 Mullins horses owned by the aptly named Rich Ricci, managing director of Barclays Capital in London.

The €120,000 prize money will settle nicely alongside the €12m in salary and bonuses that he received for 2010, a long-term award of €3.8m and another €34m he got in March from share deals.

Maybe he, or the Dublin punter who won €40,000 on the race, could spare a few bob to buy that poor young Cavanman a pair of socks.

racing special: sport

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News