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Stephen backs pal John's horse at the races

IRISH soccer star Stephen Hunt was one of the familiar faces trying to pick a winner on the opening day of the Ballybrit festival.

And he revealed how he was staying loyal to his Ireland team-mate John O'Shea by having a punt on his horse, Ferryview Place.

"I'm a clever punter. I work too hard to throw my money away," he said.

He owns several horses himself and was meant to have one of them, called Leath Acra Mor, running this week but he got injured.

His first time at the festival, Stephen insisted he was having a quiet day as he had to fly back to Birmingham to start pre-season training today.

Hunt admitted how everyone had been slagging him about his eye-catching wedding ring as it was so flashy.

"It's a bit blingy. Maybe they're not used to bling in Galway because I've been getting stick for it -- but at least it's on my finger," he quipped.

He also revealed how he was "very disappointed" with boss Giovanni Trapattoni's decision to leave him on the bench for the duration of the Euros 2012. He even flew off to Las Vegas for a holiday with his wife Joanne to cheer himself up. "That's the way the cookie crumbles. We were obviously all gutted, it left a bad taste in the mouth over the summer," he said. "It's just a matter of getting the head down now in pre-season and getting fit."

Another sports star mingling with the crowds for the day was Munster rugby legend David Wallace, who's obviously enjoying life as a retired star. "I'm really appreciating the time and with family it's good to have your weekends free and give a little back to them because of the amount of times you are away so it's good now to have it," he said.

"I suppose I'm trying to get a couple of things started business wise and as I said, and I'm spending it with my family as well.

"My wife Aileen is very happy. She's had to give up a lot as well. She can't really be going to these things and enjoying herself when I'm dragging her off at 12 o'clock."

The going was good for the first day of the Ballybrit festival as blazing sunshine and warm temperatures brought massive crowds to the event.


Skimpy summer dresses and sky-high heels was the only thing to be seen in with the stakes sky-high as usual as the ladies opted for bright colourful outfits.

The winner in the Most Appropriately Dressed competition was Aoife Kenny (28), clad in a burnt-orange dress and shoes from Campbells in Swinford.

The hotel manager from Headford teamed her ensemble with a Chanel handbag -- and won a hat by Suzie Mahony.

Judge Noel Cunningham praised her "simple and elegant" style and said she kept accessories to a minimum.

Also spotted mingling down at the track included several members of the Connaught team including captain Gavin Duffy, Mike McCarthy and Ronan Loughney.

Also at the festival was former Fianna Fail politician Ray McSharry, who was seen chatting and soaking up the atmosphere.