With over 6,000 people in attendance at Gowran today, the racing action didn’t fail to get hearts racing, with nine individual Grade 1 winners among the entries it was always going to be a competitive days racing.
Both the RED MILLS Hurdle and the RED MILLS Chase went the way of Gold Cup winning trainer Jessica Harrington and stable jockey Robbie Power. Harrington saddled Irish Grand National winner and this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Our Duke to land the Grade 2 RED MILLS Chase in a brilliant battle against Presenting Percy to clinch victory by just a length. In the Grade 3 RED MILLS Hurdle, Forge Meadow battled hard to get her head in front where it mattered, holding off a strong run from Identify Thief.
Off the track, Maria Stack from Wilton, Co. Cork was crowned the winner of the REDMILLSstore.ie Country Style Event at the RED MILLS Raceday at Gowran Park this afternoon. Maria was wearing a bag and hat, both of which she designed herself, and was chosen as the overall winner by a judges Kate Harrington and RED MILLS Ambassador Camilla Speirs.
Maria walked away with a voucher worth €500 for the new RED MILLS Store in Cillin Hill, Kilkenny. The two runners up also received luxury goodie bags containing some bubbly and a Katie Loxton Scarf.
Commenting on her win, Maria said: “My bag features a photograph I took early one morning in my wellies on the gallops at Cheltenham, in it, Ballycasey leads out Willie Mullins string for their morning exercise. I made the hat myself; I enjoy racing and I love to be comfortable at the races. I’d like to thank RED MILLS for bringing appropriate country racing attire back to the national hunt scene.”
On choosing the winner Kate Harrington said; “Maria epitomised the theme of the day, with a very stylish and practical outfit, accented with unique accessories and a great attention to the finer details.”
The gents scored some major style points for the day that was in it, with Best Dressed man Grant Dowling, from Tipperary choosing a dapper tweed jacket, layered with a warm waistcoat, and an eye-catching tie. Grant said he’s been a regular visitor to the RED MILLS race day over the years, and it was his wife who entered him into the Style Event.
Style event host & fashion blogger Stuart Montgomery ('Stuart's Select Style') said: "Both Maria and Grant were both winter racing appropriate and fit the theme of “Country Chic”.... Congratulations to you!"
Speaking after Our Duke’s victory, Harrington stated; "I'm absolutely delighted; he was good and Robert said he really only started jumping when the gun was to his head over the last three. He loses his concentration but was much sharper today. He only starts concentrating when he goes quick, and you can't go too quick on that ground. He wouldn't have liked that ground as it's horrible ground, and it's a good performance giving Presenting Percy 7lb. All being well he'll go to the Gold Cup now and I won't have to do much with him which is great. He had to come back and do that, as you couldn't go without that race and he'll be sharper again."
After Forge Meadow’s win Harrington said; “she was a bit slow jumping the second last but the other one (Identity Thief) didn't get away from her and she winged the last. She puts her head down and she loves galloping. She'll go two and a half on better ground but she won't go to Cheltenham as she doesn't travel. She went there last year and she melted. We'll go to Fairyhouse and Punchestown with her - there's a mares Grade 1 hurdle at Punchestown and she could run in a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse also. She won a Listed race early on (this season) and then to come back after finishing second twice is fantastic. She is her own madam and has to go down to the gallops first at home. When she wants to go, she has to go and you can't wait."
Quotes via @IrishRacing.com