Monday 16 September 2019

Winning in style: Mullins finally breaks his duck as bookies lick their wounds

Most stylish winner Paula Gannon with her sons Ely (8) and Ezra (4). Photo: Andres Poveda
Most stylish winner Paula Gannon with her sons Ely (8) and Ezra (4). Photo: Andres Poveda
Jenny Skelton, Alex Mohnar, Niamh McCarthy, Lydia Heffron, Sarah Campbell and Agnes Branagan, from Armagh. Photo: Mark Condren
Grainne Lyons, from Clonsilla. Photo: Mark Condren

Sorcha O'Connor at Fairyhouse

The bookies were licking their wounds after a one, two, three for trainer Willie Mullins who won his first Grand National in style at Fairyhouse.

As Mullins arrived back to jubilant scenes in the parade ring, he said: "It's nice to get a lot of these things ticked off, and really worth the wait."

Winning jockey Ruby Walsh rode Burrows Saint to victory, the 6/1 favourite in the race, and was presented with his prize by President Michael D Higgins.

Dundalk bookmaker Marcella McCoy said while she was delighted for Mullins, the win meant it wasn't a great day for the bookies.

"It would have been a bad result for the bookies but I am absolutely delighted for Willie, it was a great betting race and the atmosphere has been great today in Fairyhouse - hopefully it is like that again tomorrow," she said.

Nicola McGeady, of Ladbrokes, agreed. "Punters' bank holiday weekend has well and truly ended on a high.

"The combination of Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins is lethal for the bookies.

"All week we have said that Burrows Saint is the one we need beaten. Today's result has left us licking our wounds," she said.

Punters arrived in their droves as the sun shone for a second day, with 12,000 turning out at the Co Meath track.

While many were hoping for a win among the horses, Saturdays singer Una Healy was also on the lookout for the Dunboyne Castle Most Stylish Lady.

Art teacher Paula Gannon, from Athlone, was top of the class on the day - and it wasn't the fashionable 40-year-old's first rodeo, having scooped the prize at Leopardstown at Christmas time and Kilbeggan last summer.

Her daring look stood out among the finalists, with her outfit representing a wild country garden to go with the country chic theme.

She wore a tailored floral suit from Hobbs, shoes from Dunnes which she added an embellishment to, and her crowning glory was the royal blue hat she made herself, a milliner in the school holidays.

The fan of country music was delighted with her prize - a night in Dunboyne Castle before being whisked away to Nashville for a four-night stay in the luxurious Bobby Hotel.

"I am over the moon. It's not my first win, so that is wonderful.

"This one is very special though because Easter at Fairyhouse is so renowned," said the Athlone woman.

"I can't wait to go to Nashville, I am so excited."

Healy said Ms Gannon's outfit stood out in the distance to all three judges.

Debbie O'Donnell, from Xpose, and Grainne Ross, from Dunboyne Castle, were also on hand to choose the best-dressed.

"It was so difficult, the standard was so high," she said. "We are blown away by the style."

The Tipperary singer (37) was joined at the races by her parents and her two children Aoife Belle (7) and four-year-old Tadhg.

Her boyfriend, Limerick hurler David Breen, couldn't make it as the physio was working in the UK.

Irish Independent

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