Nothing screams summer like the Down Royal Festival of Racing (@Downroyal) and this sporting event is definitely a firm favourite on many a social calendar. For those not in the know, last week’s Magners Ulster Derby Day is the richest flat race in the north and therefore seen as the highlight of this year’s summer festival.
The prize pot of €100,000 ensured that the Magners Derby enticed the cream of the runners and riders, chasing the honours over a distance of 1 mile and 4 furlongs. It was Botany Bay, ridden by Niall McCullagh (below) and trained by Charles O’Brien that came out on top and he looked very dashing in his red and white silks.
I didn’t win a thing all day, so was very grateful I stuck to my game plan of only betting £1 at a time. I worked out very quickly that I don’t know much about picking winners, so decided to give up the sporting side of the day and focus on what was going on off the track.
Having pride of place on the Tennent’s NI table, meant we had a good supply of its well-known product, Magners Original Irish cider (@MagnersNI), a brand that is also title sponsor for the event.
The occasion was particularly special for Magners, as, throughout this year, it is marking the 80th anniversary since the recipe for Magners was created by William Magner. You can’t beat Magners on a sunny day and thankfully the weather gods were good to us for (most of) the afternoon.
Always casting a beady eye on the style stakes, the Magners Derby Day is probably getting as well-known for the racing prize fund as the Best Dressed competition. Maybe some of the ladies were trying to attract the attention of certain country gents, but I suspect the eye-catching outfits had more to do with the amazing prize on offer for the winner.
Sponsored by Lexus Belfast, the lucky Armagh woman, Riona Corrigan (below) walked off with a five star trip to Rome – wonder if she has room in her case for a little one! She looked stunning and had a touch of Julia Roberts in her look, remember the classy red evening dress for her night at the opera?
Her look was finished off with white lace gloves and a black and white polka dot hat from my favourite County Armagh milliner, Millinery by Mairead. regular G Spots! readers will have read my post a few months back about this hidden gem, but here it is again in case you missed it…. http://www.belfasttimes.co.uk/g-spots-a-millinery-hidden-gem/
It wasn’t just the women that had made an effort, as there was a fair share of dapper gents on parade. I saw everything from bright pink trousers, comic book printed suits and of course there was no escape from the hipster beard. I don’t think they can enter the Best Dressed, but maybe they will have their own competition in the future.
Overall my trip to Down Royal combined all the things I love about race day – fun, frocks and fillies. The next ladies day is not until the end of October, so you have plenty of time to plan your outfit and it will give me time to swat up on the form. If you are planning to go, be sure to have a drink after in Gowdy’s pub, at the entrance to the Down Royal – this is where the real fun starts, but that’s for a whole different column!
*Professional Photography courtesy of Kelvin Boyce @ PressEye
By Grainne McGarvey. Spotting local hidden gems from the world of beauty, health, fashion, tourism and hospitality. I have my ear to the ground (quite literally) to keep you up to date about the new or interesting products and services from our neck of the woods. If you know one – get in touch on twitter @grainnemcgarvey or at www.pulseprni.com