Rivalries put aside in search of a Punchestown winner

Sporting legends from across the codes were among the crowds hoping to strike it lucky at Punchestown yesterday on the second day of the National Hunt Festival.

Rivalries put aside in search of a Punchestown winner

An unseasonable chill gave the April breeze a sharp bite but that didn’t deter the thousands who enjoyed the spectacle at the Kildare track.

Tribal divides were bridged in the parade ring as former Liverpool manager Roy Evans happily chatted to Howard Kendall, once the boss of bitter local rivals Everton, and discussed the form and the chances of the Toffees doing the Reds a favour in a gripping title race, as the Premier League enters the final furlong.

Former Dublin GAA star Jason Sherlock mingled with a crew of Longford GAA supporters and revealed he hopes to be back at the track on Friday but as an owner.

Sherlock is a member of the Supreme Racing Club and is fizzing with excitement at the prospect of seeing a horse he is involved with for the first time.

Ruby Walsh returned in triumph to a rousing reception after partnering Boston Bob to victory in the day’s racing highlight, the G1 Bibby Financial Services Gold Cup. The eight-year-old’s victory was proof to champion trainer Willie Mullins that his faith in Boston Bob had not been misplaced.

“Boston Bob is just improving and turning into the horse I was hoping he would be. I thought he was unlucky twice in Cheltenham and at least now he is getting reward for what he is showing me at home,” said Mullins who enjoyed a rapid big race double as Shaneshill won the following G1 Attheraces.com Champion Bumper.

The drop in temperatures didn’t impact on the style and sizzling summer colours brightened the overcast skies. The lucky ones who backed a winner or two could spend their windfall in the bustling shopping village.

Gillian Walsh, wife of Ruby, has some dazzling gems on display from her diamondlite.ie online jewellery business.

The mother of three, who gave birth to the couple’s third daughter Gemma three weeks ago, launched her company at the festival four years ago.

A hectic week for the family got off to a great start: “It’s very busy but we are used to juggling everything.”

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