Galway Races: Style fans pull out all the stops in a bid to impress judges
Day four of Galway races and it's not hard to spot the racing aficionados from the newbies.
Those in the know arrive wearing stylish heels, but have flip-flops and flats poking out of their bags in order to smugly continue the fun in town later.
As everyone's so fond of remarking about Ballybrit, it's a marathon not a sprint, so comfy footwear is essential if you're to keep up with the crowd.
The track was a blaze of colour for Ladies Day, aka 'the Day the Dubs descend', as the style fans in attendance pulled out all the stops in a bid to impress the judges.
Complicated-looking fashion ensembles and intricate head-pieces were the order of the day as they headed to the course to catch up with pals and quaff a few tipples in the Champagne tent as attendees started the bank holiday celebrations early.
"There mustn't be a girl left in Dublin," remarked one steward as he watched the trail of determined-looking women pouring through the gates.
Always one of the most popular days of the week, the crowds poured into the track from early on as a party atmosphere prevailed, with many clutching energy drinks in order to stay the pace.
An estimated 30,000 racing fans were out in force as they caught up with pals and studied the form at the many drinking holes dotted around the course.
Former Miss World Rosanna Davison came down to Galway on the morning train from Dublin, accompanied by her friend Gillian Fitzpatrick, and looked chic in an orange and navy dress from Arnotts.
"It's always a great day down in Galway. It's just really good fun and it's so nice to see everyone making such an effort," she said.
Proving she was multi-talented was Leitrim milliner Jennifer Wrynne, who in addition to making her own headpiece, didn't stop there and whipped up her own dress too. A previous winner at Ladies Day at Cheltenham, she said the well turned-out crowd didn't appear to need any tips when it came to cutting a dash.
"I don't know because the style is just incredible. It's like nothing I've ever seen before. Galway races beats the style at any other racecourse so I'd have no advice to give anyone because it's just so hard, because there's so much style and so much competition here," she said.
Gearing up for a festival of a different kind in Kerry later this month were more than 30 Rose contestants who soaked up all the atmosphere of the raucous event as they bunched together in the Champagne tent.
The overall title of g Hotel Best Dressed Lady went to local girl Aoife Mac Cana, from Spiddal, who proved she was heads above the rest by somehow managing to fashion a headpiece out of a fruit bowl.
Luckily, the serious proceedings of judging the winner were out of the way just before a giant downpour that sent ladies scurrying in their heels for cover. While the weather had managed to defy all the forecasts to behave itself for most of the week, punters' luck ran out entirely just after 4pm yesterday when the heavens opened and the driving rain turned it into a 'soft day' down west.
Shortly after 4.30pm, attention turned to the track for the feature race of the day, the Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap, with its overall prize fund of €300,000. A huge cheer erupted as 6/1 chance Tigris River, piloted by Barry Geraghty, left his rivals at sea to claim victory in the big race. Owned by JP McManus and trained by former jockey Joseph O'Brien, the well-backed winner saved the day for many punters. "We're still in the lead going into the weekend but after a torrid start for bettors, the comeback is well and truly on," said a Paddy Power spokesman.