Wednesday 13 December 2017

I'm on fire, says Dunphy as he backs 4 winners at Leopardstown

IT was a tale of two Eamons.

One reckoned he was "on fire" while the other, perhaps predictably, doesn't "bet big".

Yes, the sun was out and the stakes high -- for some -- as race fans took to Leopardstown race course yesterday.

Eamon Dunphy was lording it as he boasted of having big wins before he even made it to the track.

Meanwhile, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore was portraying the image of a money-cautious politician.

There was plenty of party spirit around the course, with Dunphy, in particular, loving the time with his family in the Paddy Power suite.

"I am here with my family -- my wife Jane (Gogan, head of RTE Drama), my daughter and my son," he told the Herald. "We come every year and we love it. It's a tradition and the atmosphere is great."

Dunphy said that the good weather was an added bonus, but that wind and rain would never keep him away.

"Rain would never deter me. I mean, if you go racing in Ireland you expect rain and wind so I'm always prepared for every eventuality."

He had struck gold the previous afternoon and, according to himself, was "on fire".

"I wasn't here yesterday," the broadcaster said. "But I watched it from home and I backed four winners. So I am on form and I am on fire," he laughed.

Mr Gilmore was also enjoying a family day out but wasn't quite as confident about his potential winnings.

"I don't bet big, so I don't win big," he said. "I come here every year."

Former Taoiseach John Bruton said Leopardstown was "the perfect way to break up the Christmas holidays".


"When you have large families with different generations, and people living in different parts of the world, getting them all together can be quite a logistical exercise. So this is a nice thing to do in the middle of all that."

RTE presenter Evanne Ni Chuilinn was also in the festive spirit as she cheered on the fillies.

She was joined by her partner Brian Fitzsimons -- the pair had left baby Seimi at home for the day.

The Steeplechase of €190,000 is one of the biggest prizes on the National Hunt racing calendar and was the highlight of the day, providing plenty of drama for punters, including RTE's Anne Doyle and Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar.

"Stephen's Day is a real party day," bookmaker Paddy Power explained. "But the 27th is the more serious racing day."

When they weren't screaming at the horses on the course, the style brigade flaunted their festive fashion. Sky-high heels and warm winter coats in burgundy, navy and forest green proved popular with the ladies. But things were a little reserved ahead of Ladies Day.

"The real fashion show is Friday," said Blackrock native Sophie-Anne Martin (27).

"You still have to look the part today, but Lexus Day is the big one.

"You have to pull out all the stops if you want to make an impression on Lexus Day. There will be lots of feathers and lots of glitz."

Bets were down for the second day of this year's festival with bookmakers taking in €997,495 compared with €1,314,447 last year.


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