Record temperatures drive 17% increase in crowds at first day of Fairyhouse Easter Festival and Rachael Blackmore claims first Irish Grade 1 Victory
Sunday, 21 April 2019 at 06:02PM
Racing style season opens at Fairyhouse
on Easter Monday with Una Healy judging the Dunboyne Castle & Spa
Most Stylish Lady Competition
April 21, 2019: Huge crowds
delighted in Easter Sunday sunshine at Fairyhouse racecourse for the start of
the Easter Festival on Sunday.
The mercury hit
21 degrees at the Co Meath course, the highest recorded Easter temperature on
the course for 10 years, according to general manager Peter Roe.
Top-class racing thrilled the
crowd of 6,100, a 17% increase on 2018 figures, with the Willie Mullins-trained
Voix Du Reve, winning the big feature race of the day, the Ryanair Gold
Cup Novices Chase. Ruby Walsh piloted the 9/4 winner for owners Andrea and
Graham Wylie. On Monday, Mullins will be aiming to win his first Irish Grand
National, Ireland’s favourite race with a prize fund of €500,000.
on Sunday, Rachael Blackmore claimed her first Grade One winner on Irish soil
aboard Honeysuckle, trained by Henry de Bromhead, in the Irish Stallion Farms
EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Hurdle. She lies in second place in the
leading jockey championship, behind Paul Townend. It was the third win for
Honeysuckle at Fairyhouse this year.
Island star Chris Hughes and girlfriend Little Mix singer Jesy Nelson were on
course to cheer on Hughes’ Annie Mc in the same race. The Jonjo O’Neill-trained
five-year-old was a non-runner due to a passport irregularity, but it didn’t
deter the pair from enjoying the racing. "It's
very disappointing, but it is lovely to be here,” he said. “Ireland is a
delighted to welcome these crowds to enjoy the best of racing in this
sunshine,” said Peter Roe, Fairyhouse general manager. “For us, it’s a
lot easier to put water on the course than take it off.”
looking forward to welcoming more tomorrow for the Boylesports Irish Grand
National, Ireland’s favourite richest and favourite race. It’s the race where a
small owner can beat racing royalty; where the smaller trainer, owner and local
syndicate can beat racing royalty like Michael O’Leary, JP McManus and champion
Michael D Higgins will meet all 30 jockeys ahead of the big race on Monday.
Michael O’Leary’s General
Principle, trained by Gordon Elliott, is going for the double on Irish
soil, after the duo’s recent two-in-a-row with Tiger Roll at the Aintree Grand
National. Tiger Roll was paraded on Sunday to great applause by the crowd.
Irish Grand National, off at 5pm on Monday, is on average the most-watched
race on TV in Ireland, with over 380,000 racing fans tuning in from home.
lovers are set to flock to the course on Monday as singer songwriter Una Healy
will lead the judging of the Dunboyne Castle & Spa Most Stylish Lady
competition. She will join Xposé producer Debbie O’Donnell and Dunboyne Castle & Spa
managing director Grainne Ross to judge the winner of this year’s “country
chic” theme. The winner will enjoy a trip to an overnight luxury stay in the
Dunboyne Castle Hotel before being whisked off to Nashville, Tennessee, staying in the Bobby Hotel for four
The Fairyhouse Easter
Festival generates about €4m to the local economy and local businesses support
the festival by by decorating shopfronts along the streets of Ratoath and
highlight for younger racing fans on Sunday was the Little Hoofs Puissance Wall
high jump display and the annual La Bucca Easter Bonnet competition, which
showcased the artistic talents of the young designers.