The highlight of the racing week at Ballybritt and the richest hurdle in Irish Racing, the Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap sparked off major celebrations in the parade ring with a win by Rebel Fitz after the well supported 11/2 joint favourite captured the fourth day feature, the €260,000 Guinness Galway Hurdle.
Attendance at the 2012 Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap and Ladies Day at the 2012 Galway Races was 37,033, 2012 (42,789, 2011). Tote turnover was €960,072, 2012, (€1,237,579 2011) and Bookmakers Turnover: €2,091,794, 2012, (€2,754,737 ,2011)
Winner alright in the fashion stakes also where the winner of the Anthony Ryan’s Best Dressed Lady Competition was 22 year old Kelli O’ Dell , a student from New-South Wales Australia. Ms O’Dell wore an “Anaessia” Black lace dress, with champagne underlay, matching sash and butterfly broaches. It was accessorized with black patent Tony Bianco Shoes and her grandmother’s black gloves.
Sporting a hat of her own design, Aisling Ahern from Knockvickar, Boyle, Co. Roscommon was the winner of the Anthony Ryan’s Best Hat Competition. The winning hat had an almond shape base with a burnt orange structured bow.
Judging this year’s competition were three of the best known names in the Irish fashion industry – Former Miss World Rosanna Davison; Bairbre Power, Fashion Editor of the Irish Independent & Executive Editor of the Irish Independent Weekend magazine; and PJ Gibbons, Editor, Social and Personal Magazine.
They were joined by well known faces from the Galway fashion scene Patricia McCrossan, Managing Director, Galway NOW and Mandy Maher, Director, Catwalk Model Agency.
As always Ladies Day and the Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap of €260,000 attract a strong crowd and lots of popular faces, and the 2012 festival was no different. Former Irish soccer player Jason Mc Ateer was spotted alongside the parade ring and later in the Champagne Tent with a group of his friends, who were enjoying a golfing holiday to the west that had been planned around the Galway Races.
Also seen having fun at the Ballybrit was a number of RTE personalities, including Kathryn Thomas and her sister, and RTE’s Republic of Telly star Jennifer Maguire. Sunday Game hurling panelists Michael Duignan and Liam Sheedy were giving good each way odds on Galway Hurlers for the All Ireland Final.
TV3’s Noel Cunningham who had judged Monday’s most appropriately dressed competition came back to enjoy all the glamour of Ladies Day, he was seen chatting with leading fashionista Celia Holman Lee who has Ladies Day at the Galway Races in her diary annually and wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Rebel Fitz sparked off major celebrations in the parade ring with the win by Rebel Fitz after the well supported 11/2 joint favourite captured the fourth day feature, the e260,000 Guinness Galway Hurdle. Partnered by Davy Russell for Michael Winters, the seven year old could be called a winner someway from home, but Russell eased his mount close home and appeared unaware of the fast finishing Cause Of Causes, who flew home, but the post came in time for the winner and in the end just a head separated the first two home.
Winters stated,’ I’ve never seen the like of him to leap. We enjoyed the build up to it and the horse was very well coming here today. I was often fretting a lot more going to a point to point. ‘ “Coming down the hill I thought we were beat and I thought on the line we were beaten.
Our crowd were like lunatics around me and they thought he won. He is named after John Fitzgibbon, the Cork hurler and he is Cork through and through.’ It was a second Galway Hurdle success for Russell who remarked,’ I am delighted for Michael and the horse jumped super apart from the second, but he picked up well for me in the straight.’
Earlier there was a double on the card for Andrew McNamara, who guided Murchu to success in the opener for Shark Hanlon and he was back in the winner’s enclosure after Glibin stuck her neck out where it mattered to win the Guinness Series Novice Chase for Colin Bowe. Lady Wingshot got the better of a great duel with Yellow Rosebud to land the Listed Corrib Fillies Stakes for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning. Pat Smullen who partnered Yellow Rosebud, had better luck on the warm favourite Call Me Bubbles who proved too strong for Inis Meain in the mile and a half handicap.