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Sunday 22 October 2017

Lady in red wins style crown as Jessica secures historic double

Winner of the Carton House Most Stylish Lady Laura Elliot from Belfast
Winner of the Carton House Most Stylish Lady Laura Elliot from Belfast

With well-dressed mares, suited sports fans and the biggest prize in Irish jump racing, it was no wonder there was a stampede out to Fairyhouse for the Easter Monday Festival.

Dry weather and the occasional blast of sunshine ensured huge crowds ditched their Easter eggs for some fine racing action.

Given that it was Ladies' Day, the big prize off the track was for the most stylish lady, so packs of immaculately turned-out women vied for the judge's attention.

There were some familiar faces in the crowd of entrants, including top model Roz Lipsett, who entered the contest with her fellow model and friend Britanny Mason, who made it down to the 10 finalists.

Ensemble

She revealed how she went head-to-toe in Dunnes Stores for her outfit choice as she turned heads in a navy and yellow ensemble, which she matched with gloves borrowed from her mum.

The theme of Pomp And Splendour meant that the ladies pulled out all the stops in a bid to impress in the style stakes.

It was a case of "third time's the charm" for the first winner past the post - a delighted Laura Elliott (26), from Co Fermanagh.

The dentist was all smiles after her stunning red outfit took first place, with TV presenter Jenny Buckley picking her as the winner.

She opted for a red dress from Coast teamed with a Jenny Packham bag and a hat by milliner Jennifer Wrynne.

Lucky Laura said she was naturally over the moon with the win, which came in her third time entering a style competition at the races.

"I'm actually shocked. I can't believe it," she told the Herald.

"The style here is just out of this world and I didn't even expect to be in the top 10.

"This is my third time entering. I was in the top 10 at the Sligo races a few years ago and I went to the Curragh last year and missed it. I'm over the moon."

Engaged to be married next year to fiance Damien O'Kane, she said the prize of a trip to Italy would come in very handy when it came to unwinding before her big day.

She also won an overnight stay at Kildare's Carton House, which sponsored the event.

Judge Jenny explained why she chose Laura as the big winner.

"First of all, she had a gorgeous way about her," she said.

"It was the injection of colour, the red, that really caught my eye. It's just so vibrant.

"She just had that confidence and was so well turned out. She was the perfect winner."

Celebrating a very different Ladies' Day was champion trainer Jessica Harrington, whose mount Our Duke claimed victory in the big race of the day, the Boylesports Irish Grand National.

Despite Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary having no fewer than 14 runners in the race, he was brought down to earth with a bump by the impressive mount ridden by Robbie Power and owned by the Cooper family.

History

The victory saw Harrington speeding into the pages of racing history, given that she becomes the first female Irish trainer to win the National and also the Cheltenham Gold Cup, following Sizing John's victory a month ago.

The delighted trainer was naturally all smiles with the win - and added it was "not bad for a 70-year-old".

"It's fantastic, absolutely fantastic," she said.

Asked how she managed to keep her cool composure, she replied: "I'm not calm inside, I'm shaking.

"It hasn't sunk in yet. It's absolutely unbelievable. He was the favourite."

Owners Billy and Sloan Cooper, from Coolrain, Co Laois, said that they had only decided to run the horse at 11.30am on the day of the race.

"It's unbelievable," said Billy. "We were quietly confident. If the ground had been softer we would have been even more confident. We've had a few wins here before but never in a race like this."

When asked how they would celebrate, he answered: "Drink plenty of Jameson." Taoiseach Enda Kenny presented the trophy to the winning family and said he was delighted for them and Jessica.

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