More than €1m was placed in bets as the rain held off to give festival-goers a thrilling first day at the races in Leopardstown.
Trainer and jockey duo, Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, did more than the double yesterday, with three horses ridden by Walsh crossing the line in first place yesterday.
Walsh, on Mullins-trained 4-5 favourite Min, won the feature race of the day — the Racing Post Novice Chase.
Another victory for the pair was on the Mullins-trained horse Bapaume, which Walsh rode across the finish line in first place in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2).
They also teamed up earlier in the day to win the Horse & Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle, with Walsh riding to victory on Bunk Off Early.
But it was as good a day for the spectators as it was for the jockeys and trainers, due to the kindness of the weather.
“The Christmas Festival kicked off today (St Stephen’s Day) in fine style when a large crowd enjoyed wonderful racing.
“The weather was kind to us and we are looking forward to three more days of the best that sport has to offer. We are expecting big crowds each day so I would recommend that people arrive early and relax before racing,” said Pat Keogh, CEO of Leopardstown Racecourse and Golf Centre.
In terms of the crowd, 14,651 people attended the racing in Dublin yesterday.
This is compared with 11,844 last year when there was a yellow weather warning in place.
Yesterday’s large crowd was also reflected in the number of bets placed.
Totes took in €542,279 and bookmakers took €645,746 in bets.
In contrast to 2015, totes took in €60,000 more and bookmakers €100,000 more than the same day last year.
A spokesperson for Leopardstown told the Irish Examiner that there was a “very young crowd” in attendance yesterday.
“We had a very young crowd — an onslaught of young racegoers, which is one of the things racing is trying to encourage.
“Weather is a huge factor, the effort that goes into these race meetings, and finally the weather reflected the work that went into the event,” the spokesperson said.
The festival continues for the next three days, finishing with the Ryanair Family Day on December 29.
Among the well-known personalities attending yesterday was Irish actor Stephen Rea.
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