Brilliant in the fashion stakes

WINNERS: Despite the grim weather the fashionistas were out in force at races

Melanie Finn

The chilly temperatures and driving rain at the start of the National Hunt festival didn't stop determined fashionistas from strutting their stuff.

And Athy teacher Naoise Pelin (27) -- a vision in yellow -- was soon celebrating when she took the Winner Alright award.

Naoise got her budding millinery business off to a flying start after hat genius Philip Treacy revealed how she designed her amazing head-piece herself.

"I had the vintage dress sitting in the back of the wardrobe.

"I had always loved the colour and I've just started making hats myself, so I just designed it around the dress," she explained.

Her umbrella came from Newbridge Silverware, her shoes from Fitzpatrick and she accessorised her €350 ensemble by opting for a clutch bag from Penneys.

Naoise got the day off from work to attend the races and trotted home with a €1,000 voucher from Coast as her prize.

The going was just as good on the track, with all eyes turning to the Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at 4.20pm.

Huge cheers came from the crowd as Alderwood was first past the post, giving jockey Tony McCoy the winner for the second year running.

Owner JP McManus was thrilled with the win.


The Limerick businessman described his horse as a "good tough sort" and said that trainer Tom Mullins had him "looking marvellous".

Afterwards, he and champion jockey Tony popped into the Evening Herald box to celebrate their big win.

Other members of the McManus clan were cutting a dash down in the parade ring, including JP's wife Noreen.

She was looking fit as a fiddle after returning to the races for the first time since having an operation.

She was joined by glamorous daughter-in-law Annmarie McManus, who was looking uber-glam and practical, dressed in a burnt orange pants suit.

And despite the rotten weather, business remained brisk for the opening day of the popular festival, with some 14,345 punters through the turnstiles.

Optimistic fans were all delighted after hot favourite Sizing Europe was first past the post in the Boylesports Champion Steeplechase, giving the bookies a hammering.

And there were massive gasps of disbelief as the crowd watched the thrilling finish in the Champion Novice Steeplechase.

It saw Michael O'Leary's horse Sir Des Champs survive a final-fence blunder to maintain his unbeaten record for trainer Willie Mullins, much to the delight of the Ryanair boss.


Familiar faces in the crowd included Marietta Doran and Tracy Piggott from RTE, rugby pundits Brent Pope and Bernard Jackman and Dragon's Den star Gavin Duffy.

Ireland footballers Simon Cox, Keith Andrews and Darren O'Dea also showed up and helped celebrate Sizing Europe's big win.

See pages 21 and Sport