Sunday 17 December 2017

Fans on form as Mullins has 22 wins at Leopardstown

Michael O’Leary celebrates with daughter Tiana. Photo: Damien Eagers
Michael O’Leary celebrates with daughter Tiana. Photo: Damien Eagers

Sean O'Grady

he may have missed out on the biggest race of the day, but Willie Mullins was the undisputed champion of the Leopardstown Christmas festival.

Clear skies and mild temperatures kept punters' moods up for the final day of the south Dublin racing festival.

Kiera and Zhara Wylie from Newcastle, England. Photo: Damien Eagers
Kiera and Zhara Wylie from Newcastle, England. Photo: Damien Eagers

While Waterford trainer Henry de Bromhead took home the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle with Petit Mouchoir, owned by Michael O'Leary, Mullins was the man of the hour with an unprecedented 22 wins over the four days.

"This week has exceeded all expectations. We have never had similar luck at Punchestown and we always do well there. It's extraordinary," he told the Irish Independent. "We were slow out of the blocks and had our few problems and this is just the way it's worked out."

Singer Brian Kennedy brought the festival to a close by performing for punters after the final race.

"It's a gorgeous thing to be a part of and I loved that they asked me to come and sing for the final part of the last day. I've sung at the Curragh a few times but I don't go as a regular," he said.

Niamh Cox, Tara Burke and Fiona O’Shea from Templeogue, Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers
Niamh Cox, Tara Burke and Fiona O’Shea from Templeogue, Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers

"Some people won some money and some people lost some money, so I'll have to try to cheer them up."

Reaction

Ryanair chief Mr O'Leary was in flying form following Petit Mouchoir's win. He was in attendance with his wife Anita and their children, Tiana (8) and Zac (6).

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But there was mixed reaction from punters on the day. Mark Harnett, from Cashel, Co Tipperary, admitted he wasn't too happy with his results.

"Not too many winners, unfortunately. I was going to go with Willie Mullins for the first few but they were such short odds there was no real point," he said.

Kildare woman Kate Harrington (27) cheered her mother, trainer Jessica Harrington, after she won the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Steeplechase with Our Duke.

"I've been here every day. I was riding the first three days and I'm just having a day out today.

"It was great being a winner yesterday and it was great to have Our Duke win the Grade 1 today," she said on the final day.

"Leopardstown Christmas festival is special because it's just a real Dublin tradition. On Stephen's Day, all the Dublin schoolkids come in and then you'll have the country people come in later on in the week."

The festival was hit by a drop-off in crowd figures on its final day, with 11,915 attending. But that was an increase from 9,150 on the same day last year.

Irish Independent

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