The massed ranks of Mná na hÉireann turned out in record numbers for the ever-popular Ladies’ Day at the show, although some presumably also hoped to catch a glimpse of Bruce Springsteen — in Dublin to support his daughter, Jessica, who is competing for the USA team.
As ever, the competition for the Blossom Hill Best Dressed Lady title was as intense as any event in the main showjumping arena at the RDS.
And entrants in the fashion stakes are likely to pick up as many faults as their equestrian counterparts. “It’s OK, but you’d wonder what she was thinking,” was one bystander’s somewhat caustic remark about the wearer of a particularly flamboyant headpiece.
However, the views of the judges — broadcaster Brendan Courtney; fashion stylist Angela Scanlon; and Triona Gannon, general manager of Galway’s G Hotel — were more complimentary.
More than 600 ladies took part — a record entry — with many happy to queue for more than an hour for their 30-second encounter with the judges.
The winner was the unanimous choice of all judges, the coveted honour claimed by Carol Kennelly, from Tralee, who picked up a prize of an €8,000 shopping trip to New York.
The 42-year-old mother of two, who is a milliner, wore one of her own creations — a cluster of pearls headpiece — in combination with a white jacket and an ostrich-feather dress by Killorglin designer Tina Griffin.
“I don’t know if I’ll cry or faint or a bit of both. I’m overwhelmed,” she gasped.
The runner-up prize was won by Lisa Regan, 28, a public relations professional and fashion blogger from Galway, who was dressed in a 1970s-style, olive green and cream dress that she picked up for €15 at a vintage sale.
The internationally acclaimed milliner, Philip Treacy, made his first-ever visit to the Dublin Horse Show to present the prize for Best Dressed Man to Maurice Keogh, from Sandycove, Co Dublin.
“I don’t normally dress like this. I’m a carpenter,” smiled the dapper winner about his tweed jacket and mustard-coloured chinos combination.
Tracey, who is also visiting his native Ahascragh in Co Galway during his stay, said he was already working on next season’s collection, as well as a photographic book about his career.
Asked about the headwear fashion on display at the RDS, Tracey diplomatically observed: “Irish women are as stylish as any other culture.”
Other prizes-winners included Belle Phipps from Kildare (Most Creative Hat); Aoibheen McMonagle from Dublin (Most Colourful Outfit); and Danielle Gingell from Mayo (Elegance is an Attitude).
With another day of glorious sunshine, it was also a successful day for the home team in the international jumping events, with Michael Duffy on Westland Ruby winning the Speed Derby with Cameron Hanley on Newton du Haut Bois and Capt Michael Kelly on Mo Chroi filling the runner-up spots.
Today, the attention will focus on the highlight of the equestrian calendar at the Dublin Horse Show — the Nations Cup for the coveted Aga Khan trophy.
The Irish team of Cian O’Connor, Dermott Lennon, Bertram Allen, and Darragh Kenny were given an unfavourable draw by going second of eight teams in their bid to recapture a trophy they last won in 2012.
The Irish Farmers Association has called on Finance Minister Michael Noonan to introduce taxation measures to allow for the phased transfer of farms between generations of families.
The IFA has proposed a “phased transfer partnership” which would see a contract that would allow a farming parent and child work together in partnership over a fixed period that would allow for a phased and progressive transfer of assets.
It has claimed such an initiative should allow tax relief on a portion of the income of the farming parent to act as an incentive for the phased transfer of the farming assets. More than half of all Irish farmers are 55 years or older with 25% over 65 years of age.
Speaking at a briefing at the Dublin Horse Show, IFA president Eddie Downey said addressing structural challenges at farm level through the taxation system would be critical for achieving agriculture’s significant growth potential.
He claimed the plan would provide a coherent plan for successions of farms and give young farmers a stake in decisions from the outset, while also addressing the concerns of older farmers about incomes security and the ability of a farm to support two incomes.
“It is critical that the early transfer of land to young trained farmers is encouraged through the continued use of appropriate taxation reliefs.”