The Labour Party councillor, who has been widely praised for introducing the highly successful free Dublin Bikes scheme, left his (bicycle) chain at home yesterday as he travelled in the majestic 222-year-old mayoral coach, drawn through the streets by a team of four black horses as part of the traditional prelude to the show’s official opening.
Formally launching the 138th staging of the event, Mr Montague recalled how one of his first jobs on qualifying as a vet in 1991 was to attend the show.
“I was petrified in case one of the horses would be injured, but nothing went wrong. But it’s great to be here in more exciting circumstances.”
Fittingly he also explained how the veterinary college where he studied in Ballsbridge had been established by the RDS.
Accompanied by his nephews, Darragh and Feargus, and girlfriend, Sinead Ahern, the lord mayor avoided putting his “spoke” in the debate over whether four legs are preferable to two wheels.
On a more serious equine note, Mr Montague said Dublin City Council would continue with its clampdown on illegal activities at the famous Smithfield horse market which has become embroiled in controversy in recent years.
With reasonably dry weather, large crowds flocked to the famous showgrounds for the first day of the event, which runs until Sunday.
One of the main attractions was real-life US cowboy John Fox and his Virginian mule, Job.
“I’m no wiser than any of you,” said a bemused PA announcer as he introduced the pair to a large crowd of eager onlookers.
Although the Ballsbridge show is all about the primacy of the horse, Fox made a succinct argument in favour of mules, which are a cross between a horse and a donkey.
“You can’t bully these animals,” said Fox who also rubbished their reputation as stubborn creatures.
Meanwhile, Job lived up to his namesake’s association with patience as Fox talked of adventures with grizzly bears and wolves in the wilderness during a 30-minute performance.
Elsewhere, there was much interest in the appearance of the world-renowned stunt riders, the Ukrainian Cossacks, although their daredevil horsemanship could only be witnessed by a small proportion of the audience as they confined their performance to just one end of the main RDS arena.
Among the attendance were Irish rugby stars Tommy Bowe and Rory Best, who were enjoying one of their last days of freedom before the build-up to next month’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Despite the threat of some rain, large crowds are expected again today at the RDS for Blossom Hill Ladies’ Day with the prize for the winner of the best dressed lady competition being a holiday to California and Napa Valley worth €10,000. There will also be other prizes for the most colourful outfit, most creative hat and best dressed male and indeed, for some horses and riders too.