Monday 11 December 2017

Galway Races: Lady luck not on TV stars' side on raceday

Sophie Small from Galway City during the Galway Races Summer Festival 2017. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Sophie Small from Galway City during the Galway Races Summer Festival 2017. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

Day two of Galway Races saw more than 20,000 optimistic punters flood through the gates at Ballybrit as the festival for die-hard racing fans got into its stride.

Unexpected sunshine, massive attendance figures and a general atmosphere of bonhomie helped ensure the second day was a relaxed affair for attendees.

But while some of RTÉ's biggest stars descended on the Galway Races for what they hoped would be an easy day on a corporate jolly, lady luck was not on their side when it came to the timing of a certain release.

RTÉ's revealing the salaries of its 2015 highest earners was made just before many of its unsuspecting broadcasters began trickling into the course, only to be met by a press corps intent on quizzing them about their hefty wage packets.

Corinna Hynes from Sligo and Tracey McGuinness from Donegal at the Galway Races.
Photo: Tony Gavin
Corinna Hynes from Sligo and Tracey McGuinness from Donegal at the Galway Races. Photo: Tony Gavin

First up was Séan O'Rourke, who had nipped up from Montrose a few hours after landing the first interview with journalist Kevin Myers. O'Rourke said he was taking a "monastic vow of silence" when it comes to commenting on salaries.

"It's always nice to get a day in Galway, it's my home town and it's where I started as a cub reporter 44 years ago," he added.

Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh arrived accompanied by Des 'Dancing Dessie' Cahill, who said he was "looking forward to a day of talking about horses and hurling".

Shortly after, it was the turn of Marty Morrissey to land at the track, who said how Galway is such a unique event in the racing calendar. 

Finally there was Miriam O'Callaghan, the lady in red dressed in a crimson Coast dress with a fascinator.

"I wonder what on earth you're going to ask me?" she said with a smile. "I've been to the Galway races before, they're always good fun. I'm not a big betting woman but I will be betting."

Twin sisters Rebecca Casserly, left, and Stephanie Casserly, from Oranmore, Co Galway, during the Galway Races Summer Festival 2017 at Ballybrit. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Twin sisters Rebecca Casserly, left, and Stephanie Casserly, from Oranmore, Co Galway, during the Galway Races Summer Festival 2017 at Ballybrit. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Around the track, business was brisk as punters tried to pick a favourite from the race-card while catching up with friends and family. Even though Ladies Day is not until tomorrow, there was no shortage of fashionable ladies around the course.

Gráinne Seoige made her annual appearance at the event, having judged a Best Dressed Lady at the Loughrea Hotel that morning. She wasn't joining the rest of her RTÉ pals in the Killanan stand but was heading instead to the owners' and jockeys' bar.

She said her fiancé Leon Jordaan wasn't able to make the trip over due to work commitments but she no doubt enjoyed catching up with sister Sile, who is expecting her first child.

Ex-Ireland international Stephen Hunt was also there and back in his kit for a different kind of sporting occasion, namely the Paddy Power Zorbing Derby. Despite giving it his best shot, he was beaten by a local lad, the four-time All-Star Galway hurler Ollie Canning.

Hunt was celebrating his 36th birthday yesterday and said he first came to Galway two years ago for one day and "ended up staying for three".

Jockey Ruby Walsh with daughters Isabella (7), left, and Elsa (6), during the Galway Races. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Jockey Ruby Walsh with daughters Isabella (7), left, and Elsa (6), during the Galway Races. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Down in the parade ring, the celebrations were beginning in earnest for former jockey Robbie McNamara, who was paralysed after a tragic fall two years ago. He received the biggest cheer of the day from the crowd after his entry Cascavelle scored him his first winner in Galway in the fourth race of the day.

The feature race of the day, the Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap, saw favourite Riven Light romp home to victory, which saved the punters from taking a total hammering but the Willie Mullins-trained mount was the only favourite to come in first on day two.

Grainne Seoige at the Galway Races. Photo: Tony Gavin
Grainne Seoige at the Galway Races. Photo: Tony Gavin

Irish Independent

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