Ladies romp home in fashion stakes

IT was a bit like a 1950s dance hall at the Galway Races yesterday when swarms of women huddled together in corners waiting to be asked — to be photographed that is.

It was Ladies’ Day and from early afternoon they crowded at the patch of ground near the Ballybrit Tote in the hope that their splendid fashion efforts would reach a wider audience.

Women who had obviously spent hours perfecting their attire competitively positioned themselves to attract the cameramen.

“Wouldn’t it be great if Jim Fahy could ever get us on RTÉ this evening,” one lady said to her friend while adjusting her make-up before facing the cameras.

Worrying rumours had raced around the previous night poor weather would prevent hundreds of ladies from displaying their finery.

Taxi drivers alleged that some of Galway’s best women went to the races on Wednesday because they knew “Thursday would be raining, so they decided to wear the new dress the day before”.

In the end we got a mongrel of a day with showers and sunshine exchanging places throughout the afternoon.

The ground looked good from the beginning though and even on the mucky entrance to the course carloads of immaculately-dressed beauties were everywhere.

Everything from standalone hats to scalloped-shaped necklines were on show as the country’s sexiest ladies chased a prestigious win at the Galway races.

Eva Hayes, 26, from Limerick had her dress specially designed by Roena Cunningham, who teaches with Eva at the Old Bawn community school in Tallaght.

“She designs all my clothes for me because I find it very difficult to get the right size. I think everyone is going eccentric in their styles these days and people aren’t buying designer clothes as much anymore,” Eva said.

Looking sensational the Limerick woman admitted she hadn’t gone to bed until six in the morning.

“I feel like my eyes are falling out of my head,” she said.

Simona Toma from Romania and Pauline Collins from Galway city had designer dresses that were covered in greenery including coconut leaves.

“The design on Simona’s dress took five hours to make and it’s very slow work. You first have to make the base and then cover it again,” florist Henk Van Enk said.

Another man who obviously spent a lot of time on his hair was You’re a Star winner Mickey Harte. Just after he found out that his new album Sometimes Right, Sometimes Wrong had reached number one in the charts, Mickey arrived at the races with a new hairdo.

“It’s like what I had before but I think it will be easier to manage,” the singer-songwriter said. Surrounded by handlers, Mickey Joe looked every inch a rock star and he said his life had completely changed since winning the talent contest.

“It’s all different but this is always what I wanted to do, so I’m enjoying it very much,” he said.

Other men who certainly enjoyed yesterday were the owners of Sabadilla, the 14/1 shot who won the €103,225 Galway Hurdle.

Cork men Shaun Murphy, form Crossbarry, Billy Coleman, Mayfield, and John Hyde from Fairhill said they would celebrate the win in style.

This is the biggest win we’ve ever had and we’re going to have some night,” Shaun said.

Thirty-six-year-old Pat Verling from Rathcormac, Co Cork, both trained and rode the horse to victory in an exciting race.

“I hope this will mean I can get some more work as a jockey for another few years,” he said.

A large contingent from Moyvane, Co Kerry, the home place of Shaun Murphy’s wife Marie, travelled up to support Sabadilla. Among them was Kerry County Board chairman Seán Walsh.

A total of 37,394 people attended the Galway races yesterday which was 1,500 down on last year, but betting on Galway Hurdle rose by €70,000 to €550,000 when compared to day four in 2002.

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