The crowd set off an almost primal cheer as they returned to the Irish Grand National for the first time since 2019 with a surprise 40-1 win at Lord Lariat.
Such was the joy for racing fans to be back at the Fairyhouse in Co Meath, sometimes pockets of young revelers broke out in song.
And nobody was happier to be there in the Easter Monday sunshine than winning owner Pat Blake of Co Clare.
Not only was the 40-1 winner realizing a dream for Mr Blake and his entire family, but he admitted it would “lift the spirits” of his parents, Michael and Teresa.
“The worst part is my mum and dad, Michael and Teresa have Covid but thankfully they are fine.
“They would have loved to have been here and I would have loved it if they had been here. But that will absolutely mean the world to her.
“We’ve been round horses all our lives, but this is great
A young man in the crowd, who appeared to have just won on horseback, called a friend to say, “I can’t believe this.” And it was that sheer joy that seemed evident to racegoers throughout the day, whether they won or lost.
Taoiseach Michael Martin said he had placed a bet but would not reveal who he preferred.
“Exercise is just great therapy,” said the Taoiseach. “People are so happy to be here today and at all the other events across the country
“There is a great feeling that the crowd is back at a race meeting post Covid. The enthusiasm is enormous and everyone is really positive.”
Former jockey and Dancing with the stars Winner, Nina Carberry, judged the Most Stylish Lady competition sponsored by Dunboyne Castle.
Ms Carberry, wearing a pink Maire Forkin Designs dress and a Kate Betts hat, said taking part in the RTÉ TV show has helped her see “a different side of life” and she can now pursue her interest indulge in style.
Ms Carberry praised the fashion event’s 150 applicants, including women who put together their own outfits.
“It’s a brilliant atmosphere to see the glamor and people having fun,” she said.
“One of the women made her own coat and it is beautiful.
“Some made their own dresses today which is really nice to see.
“I miss the race, but ever since DWTS I’ve really found another side of life and I’m enjoying it. I love fashion and it’s great to be a part of it today.
“I had my daughters Rosie (4) and Holly (2) here yesterday and they really enjoyed it. They love to see the horses.
“I love being at home with them more. I put them to bed and tell them a story. Those are the important things,” she added.
Clare Conlon from Co Armagh won the Most Stylish Lady award.
She wore an orange and white lace dress by Never Fully Dressed, an orange hat by Hats Hats Hats in Belfast and accessories by Zara.
Ms Conlon won a weekend in Champagne, France, an overnight stay at the Dunboyne Castle Hotel and Spa, and a tour and tasting for €500 spending money.
Runner-up Rita Doyle, 21, from Gorey, Co. Wexford, wore a mint and pearlescent top.
Ms. Doyle paired the top with white trousers from Pretty Little Thing, a white coat from Penneys and a Linda Fleming headdress.
“Not only does that mean a lot to me today,” Ms. Doyle said.
“It will mean a lot to Olga, a Ukrainian woman and her family who live with my family.
“She helped with my outfit by putting blue ribbons over the buttons (to spice up the look).
“I can’t wait to tell her. She wants to build her own beauty business here.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/racegoers-go-wild-as-the-crowds-return-for-the-irish-grand-national-after-two-years-41564797.html Racegoers go wild as crowds return to Irish Grand National after two years