Glad rags brighten up buzzing Ballybrit

ON Galway Plate Day, the bookies got hosed and not just by the rain, which finally made its obligatory appearance in Ballybrit.

It just wouldn’t be the Galway Races without the rain. Every year, a deluge descends and although racegoers were spared a downpour of biblical proportions yesterday, it was still a pretty wet and dreary day to go racing.

However, that didn’t mean there was a dreary atmosphere. Galway Plate Day comes about just once a year and nothing, not even God himself, was going to spoil the party.

Wednesday is the day when the glamour starts to come out in preparation for Ladies’ Day. Given the weather, the fake tan seemed to be running faster than the horses in Ballybrit. Even the men seemed to be making an effort, albeit often in somewhat dubious fashion. When you see a man in a Stetson hat, you can only be in two places. Texas or Galway.

Fortunately, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore sported neither a Stetson nor fake tan and breezed into Ballybrit about 10 minutes after yet another former taoiseach and keen racegoer Albert Reynolds arrived.

Being a Galway man, this was not the first time Mr Gilmore had been to Ballybrit and he said he was happy to be there as an ordinary punter.

“I’m from Galway so I’ve been coming here since I was a child really. I come here in the summer and go to Leopardstown at Christmas. I’ve looked at the form alright but with the rain it’s a bit unpredictable,” he said.

Even though he had his race card, it didn’t stop Niall Butler shoving a Turf Form into his hand. The Tánaiste even paid over the odds for it, handing over €10 to the Ballybunion vendor, who later admitted he was a Fianna Fáil man anyway.

“He gave me €10 to be fair to him and they only cost €6. I’m a Fianna Fáil man by the way and I gave him two losers to back too,” he laughed.

Next up was the obligatory photo opportunity. One little boy, three-year- old Cody Kenny from Offaly, dressed in a waistcoat and flat cap seemed the perfect picture. However, he quickly turned on the tears and was having none of it. He must have been a Fianna Fáil voter too.

Just when you thought it was only politicians showing their mugs in Ballybrit, it appears the celebs are coming and all in the name of charity.

Georgia Salpa and Glenda Gilson are on the way and will battle it out tomorrow for Betfair Mobile in a ‘scan off’ competition in Eyre Square. Whichever one has the most code scans in the two-hour competition, will receive a €1,000 donation to their charity of choice.

Who says celebs don’t have hearts?

As for stars of the equine variety, the big winner of the day was the head of Barclay’s Bank in England Rich Ricci whose Willie Mullins-trained Blazing Tempo took the Galway Plate. One of the best backed horses of the day, with over €200,000 matched on Betfair for the horse, it was a bad result on an awful day for the bookies.

Given the volume of cheers as it passed the winning post, sympathy seemed in short supply.

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