Wednesday 17 January 2018

Rain and hail can't dampen the mood as ladies step out in style


Audrey Kelly (Naas) at the second day of the Punchestown Festival
Audrey Kelly (Naas) at the second day of the Punchestown Festival
Kathleen Watkins and Gay Byrne at the second day of the Punchestown Festival
Lottie Ryan (RTE) at the second day of the Punchestown Festival
Margueritte Costello (Naas) makes a snowball (from hailstones) at the second day of the Punchestown Racing Featival

Wintry conditions couldn't freeze the spirit of the crowds of ladies who turned out in their most stylish get-ups for Punchestown yesterday.

Not even heavy showers of hailstones and sleet could rain on the parade of the fashionistas and punters who travelled from far and near to the second day of the prestigious racing event.

Plenty of women came dressed in their most stylish outfits in the hope of making it through to Friday's final of the festival's Best Dressed Lady competition.

Tasked with the difficult job of choosing the most fashionable of the droves of contenders was broadcaster Lottie Ryan and former model Gillian Quinn.

Local girl Audrey Kelly (25) braved the wet and windy weather to scoop yesterday's title and will return tomorrow to compete in the grand final, which will be judged by Georgia Salpa.

Audrey wore a top, skirt, belt and bag, all from Naas boutique Aria teamed with a white Zara jacket, a pink Debenhams headpiece and high heels from Office.

A first-timer when it comes to dressing for Ladies' Day, the blonde beauty couldn't believe she had been chosen.

"It's my first time entering," she said. "I was so shocked."

The 25-year-old, who is due to wed her fiance Tim Grace next year at the luxurious Tankardstown House in Meath, admitted making it through to tomorrow's final made standing in the frosty conditions worth it.

"We're in a tent later on so I knew I could get shelter a little bit later," she said. "It was bitter up there but I just kept smiling."

Losing out to Audrey was TV presenter Ciara Whelan, who was dressed in a striking red and pink ensemble.

Ciara, who presents The Holiday Show on TV3, was cheered on by her partner and co-host Jon Slattery who watched on proudly in the crowds.

Despite the stiff competition, judge Lottie Ryan (29) was more than happy with her choice of winner.

"I really liked her because she's dressed for the races but put her own kind of spin on it, " she said.

"Her headgear isn't intimidating, her dress is spring-like, she's wearing a cool waist belt and her jacket is something you can wear with other outfits as well.

"It's a youthful kind of take on going to the races without being too OTT."

After judging the glamorous contest, the radio presenter was adamant on having a good time ahead of the fifth anniversary of the death of her broadcaster father Gerry Ryan today.

"I'm going to hang around for a while because I've never been to the races before," she said.

"I've been given a few good tips so I'll place a few bets and get involved in the whole thing."

Dressed in a chic camel coat and black patent shoes, the wife of former Ireland footballer Gillian Quinn admitted that she turned to her model daughter Aisling for help with her outfit for the event.

"I'm wearing my daughter's coat actually. I was dressing for warmth today rather than style - in fact, I have a thermal vest on today so I'm not too bad," she joked.

Familiar faces at yesterday's event were Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt, injured racing star Barry Geraghty, and broadcasting legend Gay Byrne, who was there with his wife, Kathleen.

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