Irish eyes smiling as Margaret tops Cheltenham style stakes

It’s been a grim week for the Irish at Cheltenham so far but not for Margaret Connolly who yesterday came up trumps with a most unexpected double on Ladies’ Day.

Ms Connolly, from Multyfarnham in Westmeath, won the Hennessy Best Dressed Lady 2012 at Leopardstown last month and scooped the same award with the exact same outfit at Prestbury Park yesterday, beating 391 other entrants to first prize.

Not so much a case of ‘if the shoe fits’ as the whole ensemble.

Ms Connolly wore a cream dress and coat by Lilli Ann, brown gloves and bag from House of Fraser and shoes from Dorothy Perkins on a day which was flush with glamour, royalty and famous faces from the world of sport.

Also in attendance at the sunkissed track in Gloucestershire yesterday were the Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker Bowles, Princess Anne, her daughter Zara Phillips and husband and former England rugby captain Mike Tindall.

Welsh rugby union star Jamie Roberts was also on hand to take in the day’s action as were Irish goalkeeper Shay Given, who will be in Poland this summer for the European Championships, and Liverpool star Charlie Adam.

It was yet another tough day on the track for the Irish brigade with just one Irish-trained winner courtesy of Willie Mullins’ Champagne Fever who was partnered in the saddle by the trainer’s son Patrick in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

The raiders’ big hope of the day had been Sizing Europe in the feature race, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, but the 10-year old could only finish second behind Finian’s Rainbow which did at least have an Irish pilot on board in Barry Geraghty. It was a day of days for Geraghty who claimed three wins, bringing to four his number of winners and leaving him in prime position to be leading jockey by the festival’s finish tomorrow.

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