JulyFest at Killarney Races delivered a fun-filled programme with record-breaking crowds, spectacular views, top-class racing and an atmosphere that was not to be missed.
Monday kicked off the festival with lots of locals arriving to the track. There were celebrations across the track as 200 members of Killarney Racegoers Club celebrated their 40th anniversary in the Maurice O’ Donoghue Suite. Members gather as they reminisced of the years past & present, a check was also presented to Killarney Racecourse Chairman Billy O Sullivan for 1.2 million signifying the memberships contribution over the last 40 years to Killarney Races. Bella Blue Eyes showed her quality in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race. The Paddy Twomey trained filly will step up in grade next time and could be one to follow. Beechwood was an impressive winner of the William Hill Pick Your Places Maiden.
Tuesday evening offered top class flat action as the wonderful team from The Art House entertained the kids. On the track, Chally Chute continued his progression in the William Hill Extra Place Races Handicap, with Galway now in sight.
Races n’ Roses was the theme on day three. Eight Roses from the International Rose of Tralee festival got to meet their escorts for the first time at the race-meeting and they were joined by last year’s winner Rachel Duffy, great fun was had by all. The roses brought colour, glamour and good luck on the day.
On the Track there was excitement as the €50,000 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Cairn Rouge Staks went the way of Indian Wish for Joseph O’Brien and Deepone made it from 2-2 in the Irish EBF Median Sires Series Race. Due to high entries, the Rose Hotel Handicap was divided. Everylittlestep won Div 1, whilst Div 2 went to Chimeric. The Plaza Hotel continued their longstanding sponsorship, with Jabbar coming out on top under a strong ride from Darren Curran. Racing TV generously sponsored the opening and last race on the card. Londonofficecallin made it 3 wins on the bounce in Every Race Live On Racing TV Handicap for Eric McNamara.
On Thursday, jump racing took center stage to a packed crowd of racegoers with TG4 broadcasting live for the track. Tralee native Cian Michael Collins is quickly making his mark in the training ranks. He had a 1-2 in the Irish Stallion Farms EB Mares Hurdle, as Presenting Doyen led Effernock Fizz home. Easy Peasy lived up to her name in the James Collins Memorial Flat Race, as she made a winning start to her career for Harry Kelly. Jack Patrick Healy also took to the stage post racing for a fantastic night.
Last but no means least, the final day of July-Fest was extraordinary all-round. Rachael Blackmore rode Lady Rita to victory in the 3.05pm Lee Strand Handicap hurdle, trained by Louise G Lyons and owned by K Kinahan. The €45,000 BolyeSports Handicap Chase saw Sole Pretender put in a brilliant front-running performance. Trainer Norman Lee deserves huge credit for his training of this horse, and this was Sole Pretender’s tenth win. Michael O’Sullivan gave Emily in Paris a masterful ride in the Europe Hotel & Resort Mares Maiden Hurdle. O’Sullivan made stealthy headway from the rear of the field and just got on the right side of a photo-finish by a nose. Hercule Du Seuil was a runaway winner of the Lee Strand Novice Chase. WP Mullins will now be looking at Graded races for the gelding.
Ladies and gents from all across the country arrived in style as Lee Strand Best Dressed fashion event got underway. The fashion was fierce and celebrity judges Tadgh Fleming and Pamela Uba had a tough challenge whittling down the ten finalists.
Congratulations to the Lee Strand Best Dressed Lady winner Siobhan Murphy from Rathmore, Co. Kerry, who won a specially commissioned crystal vase and a trip for two to Paris. Siobhan’s stunning look was created with an Ollie & Mac bright magenta dress, paired with a rented lime green and magenta headpiece and matching heels from Asos.
On the day Siobhán Murphy said “I am over the moon to have won, there was such a high standard here today. I am in shock and so grateful to be picked by the judges. Thanks so much to Lee Strand and the Killarney Races, I had a great day out.”
The Lee Strand Best Dressed Gent winner was a Limerick man who is now living in Tralee, Brian O’Connor. Brian wore a blue blazer from Celsius and it was themed perfectly with a shirt, pants and belt from Suits Select, shoes from Penneys and a hat from Parfois. He won a specially commissioned crystal decanter and a trip for two to the city of Milan.
Brian said “Delighted to win and thankful to the judges for selecting me. It is my first time dressing up as a solo for a race meeting, I usually go as a couple theme for best dressed. I would like to thank my Auntie Mary, as she has inspired me and my girlfriend with our fashion style for the races.”
Killarney Races have two more wonderful festivals to look ahead to in August and October, if you’re looking for a proper day out then look no further, all details at KillarneyRaces.ie and on social media.