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Ladies Win in Photo Finish

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Sportsfile photographer Ray McManus jumps into a picture with Racegoers Gabrielle and Lorena Dunne and Fionnualla Cleary on ladies day at the Galway races.
Photo: Mark Condren

Sportsfile photographer Ray McManus jumps into a picture with Racegoers Gabrielle and Lorena Dunne and Fionnualla Cleary on ladies day at the Galway races. Photo: Mark Condren

Sportsfile photographer Ray McManus jumps into a picture with Racegoers Gabrielle and Lorena Dunne and Fionnualla Cleary on ladies day at the Galway races. Photo: Mark Condren

PREPARATIONS begin weeks in advance and thousands of high-heeled, manicured and perfectly kitted-out women flooded Ballybrit racecourse for Ladies Day at the Galway Races.

Day four of the festival attracted women clad in maxi dresses, mini skirts, two-piece suits and even ball gowns, to battle it out in the Anthony Ryan Best Dressed competition.

The famous contest is an annual sartorial spectacle and yesterday was no exception as the fashionable fillies turned out in their droves to fight for the coveted title.

One entrant wore a handmade crochet dress and matching headpiece, while another donned a frock customised with lace and buttons.

Another reveller showed up in a hat made by a 3D printer, but it was secondary school teacher Helen Murphy from Douglas, Co Cork, who came out on top in the judges' view.

She dazzled in a mint green midi skirt and white top from Coast, which she was accessorised with an Aisling Maher multi coloured pearl necklace and a white disc hat embellished with broaches from Dunnes Stores. She completed the look with a 1950s vintage Walborg clutch and shoes from Nine West.

Ticket holders teetered through the turnstiles of Ballybrit hours before the first race kicked off.

Attendance

Punters mingled around the stands and the champagne tent soaking up the atmosphere as the sun finally broke through the clouds to shine for the afternoon.

Among the well known faces in attendance were Daithi O Se, TV3's Karen Koster, Brendan Courtney and Sonya Lennon.

Sonya recently posed nude for a charity art exhibition, set to go on display at the Royal Hibernian Academy, and admitted that she's acquired a very unusual following since.

"Women are coming up to me on the street and congratulating me - but also, my following on Twitter has expanded to tantric experts, sex therapists and body lobby groups, so I'm reaching a whole new audience," she told the Herald.

"It got an extraordinary reaction though; it was a really nice thing to do and I think it was received in the spirit it was intended."

Former Off The Rails host Sonya stepped out in an outfit by her label Lennon Courtney for the sporting and social affair.

Returning for the second day in a row was Ireland soccer manager Martin O'Neill.

He was accompanied by his wife Geraldine and attributed his betting success on the day to his other half.

"My good fortune is all down to my good wife, she's been picking for me and it's working well, long may it continue," he told the Herald.

"It's a tremendous honour to get to come down before getting back to work next week, we've both really enjoyed it."

While most of the attention was on the fascinators, all eyes then turned to the track and the big screens for the feature race of the day, the Guinness Galway Hurdle.

It is the most valuable race of the festival, with a prize fund of €250,000.

AP McCoy secured the win aboard Thomas Edison, owned by JP McManus.


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