Horse Show: Kerry native nets €10,000 for best dressed lady

Claire Murphy emerges from field of 500 to take lucrative prize back to the Kingdom

152 years since it was first held, the Dublin Horse Show returns again to the RDS this year. For Ladies day it's hats that take centre stage at Dublin's oldest equestrian event.

 

An elegant apple-green and white outfit delivered the Best Dressed Lady prize worth €10,000 for Kerry woman Claire Murphy amid high stylistic stakes at the Dublin Horse Show on Thursday.

Balmy weather contributed to what was a typically colourful ladies’ day experience The pessimists among the almost 500 entrants found that their haute couture umbrellas could double as parasols as they joined the long, winding queue towards the main stage.

If the meteorological conditions were a pleasant surprise, the announcement of the winner came as a downright shock to the triumphant woman herself, and Murphy was nowhere to be found when her moment of victory came.

“I was on the phone to my husband at home and he was asking me about the weather. Next thing I heard a cheer and someone said ‘you won’,” said the Tralee native, who was ushered up to the stage clad in her white cape and dress topped with a floral green hat by Kerry designers Tina Griffin and Carol Kennelly.

“I just don’t know if this is really happening, I can’t believe it!” said Murphy, who built her outfit around the statement hat, which she first spotted several months ago. And her reward? A voucher for Dundrum Town Centre worth €10,000

‘Tweeed man’

She was but one of a succession of winners including Louis Copeland & Sons sponsored Best Dressed Man Raymound Gilbourne from Limerick, Longines Elegance is an Attitude prizewinner Rebecca Quigley from Monaghan and Great Lengths Most Creative Hat victor and UK-based entrant Brooke Sketchley.

“I’m known as the tweed man where I work,” said Best Dressed Man Gilbourne, sporting a grey and navy Louis Copeland three-piece suit with a horse-head cane from Blarney Woolen Mills.

“I don’t wear bright colours I wear bright trousers; I have orange trousers, red trousers, yellow trousers, any of those bright garish colours,” he added.

The riot of pinks, greens, creams and multicoloured headpieces provided the main spectacle as the Horse Show entered its second day. And some self-designed contestants were just happy to advertise their own wares on such a prestigious platform.

“The business is only a year old so it’s the first time I’m wearing my own clothes,” said Julie Caulfied from Wexford, whose conical-shaped hat from the Hat Society Dundrum literally stood out among the crowd.

She recently opened Love Jewels, her own online boutique, and came to the event in her crimson and cream livery along with her sister Serena, whose paintings are incorporated in many of the shop’s dress designs.

“So many women here have made all their own outfits, they’ve made their own hats, it’s a real achievement for some of the ladies when they make all their own things,” she added.

Away from the fashion front, now regular Horse Show attendee Bruce Springsteen was back in Ireland soon after his series of Croke Park concerts to cheer on daughter Jessica, who placed highly in the Serpentine Speed Stakes and Anglesea Stakes.