Hayley Turner Wins Europe's Most Valuable Ladies Race:the Inaugural Microsoft Cup on an Inspirational Evening at Leopardstown in Aid of Breast Cancer Ireland.
Leading lady jockeys saddled up for the inaugural €50,000 Microsoft Cup on Friday evening, the most valuable Ladies race ever held in Europe. Scenes of Jubilation followed Hayley Turner's victory onboard the Joseph O'Brien trained Arthurian Flame & owned by The Blackrock Syndicate and the feature race proved the perfect centrepiece for the annual Leopardstown's Ladies Evening in aid of Breast Cancer Ireland. Pioneered by the progressive racetrack, this unique race meeting drew a crowd of 4,255 (up 10% from 2018) and has reinvented the ladies day concept with an evening of celebration and inspiration.
Turing pink for the third time in aid of Breast Cancer Ireland, the feature Race-Forward Event in the Pavilion drew 440 glamorous guests from the worlds of racing, business, media and fashion to enjoy an evening of luxury, inspiration & pampering at the popular Dublin track.
Acclaimed author & broadcaster Maïa Dunphy hosted the Race Forward event with aplomb. Maïa was joined on stage by Pat Keogh, CEO of Leopardstown who warmly welcomed guests, followed by Breast Cancer Ireland CEO Aisling Hurley & 98FM’s Georgie Crawford; a cancer survivor who bravely shared her moving story and received a standing ovation. Inspirational words followed from Tech industry leader Cathriona Hallahan, M.D. of Microsoft Ireland as well as business woman & Dragon’s Den investor; Chanelle, Lady McCoy- the keynote speaker. Both candidly imparted their experience, wisdom and empowering strategies for success. 5-time Champion Jockey, turned Trainer Johnny Murtagh was on hand as tipster & had the difficult task of placing a €500 charity bet donated by Paddy Power, on behalf of Breast Cancer Ireland. There was further excitement as Goff’s Andrew Nolan ensured auction fever took hold later in the charity auction.
On arrival guests enjoyed a Taittinger Champagne reception and were captivated by the seductive sounds of Australian singer-songwriter Penelope Austin (wife of Leinster player Scott Fardy). During the evening, table entertainers included a magician and juggler as celebrated Dublin artist Jane Ryan sketched guests. Further treats came from beauty brand Raven who offered make-overs & top-ups during the evening. A novel “balloon pop” competition saw guests win Taittinger Champagne gift sets, complimentary Tote bets with one lucky guest scooping the top prize of a diamond pendant necklace worth €2,500 from Appleby Jewellers.
As the champagne and wisdom flowed, an indulgent five course lunch was served including foodie delights such as sushi, Vietnamese rolls, crumbed pintail prawns, wild herb with pomegranate, avocado & asparagus salads and chicken ballantine. Delectable deserts included lemon posset, adorned with raspberry discs served in martini glasses & melt-in-your-mouth chocolate orange mousse. These were followed by artisan cheese boards complimented by fresh figs, grapes, celery & handmade crackers as well as Lily O’Brien Chocolates and barista coffees and teas.
A second event on evening; The Peak Performance Event was hosted by comedian and racing enthusiast Paddy Courtney and took place by the newly designed pre-parade and parade ring. Ahead of the evening’s racing action, top racing professionals including Joseph O'Brien, Katie O’Farrell, Megan Nichols & Shane Foley took part in a stimulating Q&A on achieving Peak Performance. Race goers also enjoyed a pop-up Taittinger Champagne bar, gourmet food on-the-trot, street performers, and live jazz from The Hot Club of Dublin and later on, the hottest beats from DJ January Winters as festivities continued post-racing.
With 7 races on the card, the evening centred around the inaugural Microsoft Cup drew top international lady riders to the Dublin track including Hayley Turner, Mickaëlle Michel & Megan Nichols. The hotly contested race was won by Hayley Turner on board the Joseph O’Brien trained Arthurian Flame owned by the Blackrock Syndicate.
The Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes (listed race), a well-known trial race for the Ascot Gold Cup saw Kevin Manning guide the Jim Bolger trained Twilight Payment to victory. Trainer Fozzy Stack celebrated with Mohican Heights winning The Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Maiden. Colin Keane steered the Damien English trained Geological to victory in the Paddy's Rewards Club Handicap. The ICON Apprentice Handicap went to the Edward O’Grady trained Time For Mabel, ridden by Gavin Ryan. Father and son Gerard and Colin Keane combined to win The penultimate race; The Breast Cancer Ireland Handicap with Treble Cone with the final race of the evening, The Irish Stallions Farms EBF Median Action Maiden going to the Gordon Elliott trained Gerry’s Way.
Pat Keogh, Chief Executive of Leopardstown Racecourse noted:-“We would like to thank everyone who has supported this year’s Ladies Evening; a day on which we celebrate the wonderful lifesaving work Breast Cancer Ireland do. It’s continued growth is a great reflection on how this alternative Ladies Day has firmly established itself and been received by our racing audience. We are very grateful to Microsoft and all our partners & sponsors for their generous support of this evening. We are especially delighted to have introduced the inaugural Microsoft Cup, a €50,000 race specifically for female riders which attracted some of the top talent and leading lady riders in Europe and without the support of Microsoft and all our partners this could not have happened. On the back of today’s success, we hope to make this even bigger and better in 2020.”
Also commenting on the Leopardstown Ladies’ Racing Evening Aisling Hurley CEO of Breast Cancer Ireland remarked:- “We are delighted, to once again, be part of Leopardstown’s Race Forward evening and in so doing, further raise awareness on the importance of understanding good breast health. Events like this are so important as they help to empower, inspire and support women and it is important for women of all age groups to understand good breast health. Statistically the National Cancer Registry advises that numbers of breast cancer diagnosis will increase significantly by 2030, however this will largely be due to better awareness and understanding of good breast health, coupled with ongoing improvement in screening services, as cases are being detected earlier and outcomes more positive. It is wonderful to see this unique fundraiser go from strength to strength and become one of the key social fixtures of the season. We are extremely grateful for the support of Leopardstown, Microsoft and everyone here today, helping us in our race for a cure”.
Images are being distributed to picture desks by Chris Bellew of Fennell Photography
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