Saturday 22 October 2016

Ladies Day is as 'catty as hell', says Best Dressed regular at the races

Bernie and Dawn Leadon-Bolger at the Punchestown Festival first Day...KOB..2/5/11
Bernie and Dawn Leadon-Bolger at the Punchestown Festival first Day...KOB..2/5/11
Martha Lynn Milliner

They've dusted down their fascinators, slapped on the fake tan and sharpened their nails.

The Galway Races Ladies Day is almost upon us and, according to Best Dressed regular Bernie Leadon Bolger (46) things can get pretty ugly around the parade ring.

"Ladies Day can be catty as hell and dare I say bitchy, too," Bernie told the Herald. "I've had drinks spilt on me and had comments that would scare you. It's sad because horse racing is so much more."

The annual competition sees women from around the country go handbag-to-handbag as they battle it out to be named the most fashionable filly.

While Bernie has dealt with catty comments, other Ladies Day regulars insist it's nothing but friendly rivalry. For Carol Kennelly (43), from Co Kerry, the Galway Races are the highlight of her year.

READ MORE: And they're off ... delight for Jessica and Ruby as the festival fun begins

"I'd rather miss Christmas than miss the Galway Races," she said. "I haven't seen a nasty side at all. It's a very sociable event."

Kennelly has been crowned Best Dressed Lady at various race meetings and says planning is essential if you want to stand out from the crowd.

"There is nothing worse than a pair of shoes or a bag letting the outfit down at the last moment. It is attention to detail that pays off," Carol said.

Limerick native Rachelle Guiry, who picked up the Best Dressed title at the Darley Oaks in July 2014, spends months making sure her ensembles are perfectly polished.

"You have an idea, it might generate around your dress or hat. But you also want to be fresh and trendy for the spring/summer season," Rachelle said.

But getting dolled up for the Races isn't simply a bit of frivolous fun - there's cold, hard cash to be made.

For many, attending the races has become good business; Dublin-based milliner Martha Lynn has won thousands over the years. The designer never spends more on her chic outfits than the potential winnings.

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