Taoisigh past and present press the public’s flesh

LEADERS of the political kind were the order of the day as the second day of the Galway Races passed off almost without a drop of rain.

Whereas Monday had leaders of a sporting nature hitting the parade ring, yesterday it was the turn of taoisigh past and present to grace the Ballybrit turf.

You have to be somebody of note if photographers huddle around to get a shot of a middle aged man in a suit and so it was yesterday as former leaders Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern along with Brian Cowen all turned out.

First out to press the flesh was Albert Reynolds. Now into his 42nd year attending the Ballybrit festival, the 77-year-old looked in no mood to slow down. A favourite among the Galway crowd, he had no shortage of well wishers coming up to shake his hand. The former Taoiseach was keeping coy as regards tips.

“I’m looking for them not giving them out. I’m here for the week so I might have some later. There is no point in coming to Galway for the day. It’s a great place to lift the spirits and I normally come out on top most years. I’ve been coming here 41 years and in that time I think I have only missed one meeting,” he said.

Another man in good form was Taoiseach Brian Cowen. Yet, just like his predecessor Albert Reynolds, he also seemed to have to no tips for onlookers.

“I have to study the form to tell you the truth but hopefully I’ll have a look later on and hopefully I’ll have some then,” he said.

Mr Cowen also had no idea when it came to his own holiday plans.

“I haven’t made up my mind yet to be honest but we will work something out. It will probably be something local.”

Given Bertie Ahern was in town, Mr Cowen said he hoped the pair might get to catch up for a chat “in the next few days”.

Who knows they might rustle up a few tips, though Bertie’s luck faded late in the day. “I had the first two winners but then I went a bit astray. You can’t be backing Dermot Weld all the time but I am here tomorrow also so hopefully it will pick up,” he said.

While it may not have been the hordes of fans that greeted Tommy Bowe on Monday and also yesterday, Mr Cowen did have admirers of his own, albeit of a different vintage. Some of them even had a few punts for the Taoiseach.

Jockey Ruby Walsh, having broken his arm back in April, is off duty this week but is fighting fit to get back in the saddle.

“It’s coming on well. Another three weeks and I’ll be fine. It’s back to work then,” he said.

Although Tuesday is commonly one of the worst days for the punters, yesterday proved to be the exception to the rule. The bookies got hosed as a couple of heavily backed favourites romped home.

According to Paddy Power, Tuesday was to be one of the worst days ever for the bookies in Galway.

“I could do with a loan if you have any spare cash going because we got hosed. Every single result was bad. We just about broke even on Monday but it’s going to be a long way back from here. There will be a party in Galway tonight and the bookies are paying.”

And no one is complaining.


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