Galway races 2019: President Higgins calls for more female jockeys in races as horse owned by Jeremy Kyle comes second
President Higgins calls for more female jockeys in races as horse owned by Jeremy Kyle comes second
As the playwright John B Keane once said, Galway races are a state of mind.
And it seems that proud Galwegian President Michael D Higgins is in the know when it comes to secret of staying the pace at the annual festival.
"The main point about it is spend more time with people. The more people you meet, the better it is and the less money you will lose," he said.
President Higgins certainly practices what he preaches. He got his own day at the races off to a strong start after backing number 13 in the first race, an entry that proved lucky for him after Diamond Hill claimed a superb victory.
He also took the opportunity to point out that he would like to see better representation when it comes to trainers picking more female jockeys.
The mild-mannered statesman went as far as saying that "people should cop on" when it comes to gender representation in the Sport of Kings.
"There's a very good piece of research that shows the female jockeys get 9pc of the races but 14pc of the wins. I think it's about 46pc of trainers don't use female jockeys," he said. "It's the strength of your ability to control the horse and be kind to the horse that counts - and with people like Rachael Blackmore new ground has been broken.
"You're going to see far more trainers getting converted to the obvious, which is that women can ride horses just as well as men can."
His point was proven as English competitor Bryony Frost was narrowly denied a win in the feature race of the day, the Galway Plate with its €300,000 prize fund.
She piloted one of the hot favourites, Black Corton, to second place before being beaten by 9/1 entry Borice, trained by Gordon Elliott.
If she had come first, she would have made history as the first female jockey since 1989 to win one of the most prestigious races in the summer jump season.
Trained by Paul Nicholls, the winning connections still picked up a cool €60,000 for placing second - with its co-owners including none other than UK television presenter Jeremy Kyle.
Punching the air with delight as he celebrated Frost's coming second, he appeared in relaxed form as he soaked up the atmosphere.
But the talk-show host was in no mood for chatting about himself as he said he "wasn't doing any interviews".
Meanwhile, business was brisk around the track with huge figures turning out for the third day of the festival.