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Significant attendance increase at 150th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby

June 28, 2015

The eighth Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby which was staged at The Curragh Racecourse, Co. Kildare, Ireland was a triumphant success. The world’s leading airport retailer sponsored six of the eight races on the card including the flagship race, The 150th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby which was won by the John Gosden trained, Jack Hobbs. The horse, which is owned by Godolphin & Partners including John Gosden’s wife, Rachel was always comfortable sitting just off the pace before producing his winning run with over a furlong to race. He was soon in command and stormed clear for a majestic victory, in front of an attendance of 25,255 under a confident William Buick.

Trainer, John Godson said, “He is a wonderful horse, he fought all the way to the line. We are really thrilled with this result and are very grateful to Sheikh Mohammed and his support. Winning jockey, William Buick said, “He was the best horse in the race, it was my race to loose”!

Colm McLoughlin, the Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free presented the winning connections with a brand new, specially commissioned trophy which was made for the 150th anniversary, in front of a packed grandstand. Straight after the presentation, opera singer, Celine Byrne sang, ‘When Irish Eyes Are Smiling’ before an airplane circled the sky above and released parachute jumpers much to the delight of the crowd. The parachuters then landed on the race track itself, right in front of the grandstand for an exceptionally dramatic finish to the 150th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Earlier on in the day Colm McLoughlin and his team at Dubai Duty Free hosted almost 400 guests in their VIP private pavilion, situated just beside the winning post. The day commenced with a drinks reception followed by a sumptuous lunch and full hospitality and entertainment, including a magician, a caricature artist, two jazz bands and a string quartet.

Colm McLoughlin was delighted with the day and said, “This is our eighth year sponsoring the Irish Derby. Every year it gets bigger and better. This has been an even more exciting year as it marks the 150th running of this prestigious race. The title sponsorship of the Irish Derby is very important for us and is in line with our global strategy of high profile sports sponsorships.”

Dubai Duty Free was also inducted into the Curragh Racecourse Hall of Fame on the day. The induction ceremony took place in the Parade Ring and Dubai Duty Free now join a prestigious role of honour.

Just days before the main event, Dubai Duty Free made a very big announcement in relation to its sponsorship of the Irish Derby. The company’s Executive Vice Chairman, Colm McLoughlin confirmed that the total prize money for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby will increase to €1.5 million in 2016 following the decision of Dubai Duty Free to extend its sponsorship of Ireland’s most iconic race for a further two years until 2017. The agreement made between the world’s most successful airport retailer and the Curragh Racecourse also gives Dubai Duty Free the option to continue its sponsorship for a further three years thereafter, up to 2020. Should Dubai Duty Free extend their sponsorship until 2020 their commitment will result in a total prize fund of €7.5 million over the term of the sponsorship.

Famous faces in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby VIP Pavilion included, Oscar nominated film maker, Jim Sheridan, rugby heroes Ian Madigan and Robbie Henshaw, media personalities, Anne Doyle and Mary Kennedy, fashionista and model agency boss, Celia Holman Lee and retired champion jockey, Lester Piggott.

Lorraine O’Sullivan won the title of the Dubai Duty Free Most Stylish Lady. Lorraine, who is from Dooradoyle in Co. Limerick was wearing a beautiful dress by Philip Armstrong along with Chanel and Gucci accessories. Her hat was a handmade beauty making it all the more original and she paired it with a Lulu Guinness clutch. Lorraine was chosen as the overall winner by a judging panel led by Breeda McLoughlin, wife of Colm McLoughlin, television presenter and media personality Amanda Byram, IMAGE Magazine’s Editor in Chief Melanie Morris and fashion editor of the Irish Independent, Bairbre Power. Bairbre was also the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Lifestyle Ambassador for the full weekend of the festival.

Lorraine won the top prize of a holiday of a lifetime to Dubai for two courtesy of Dubai Duty Free comprising five glorious nights in Dubai Duty Free’s own, 5 star hotel, The Jumeirah Creekside, return flights and a whopping €1,000 to spend at the multi award-winning Dubai Duty Free. The prize also included a spectacular statement piece of diamond jewellery from Boodles valued at €5,000 and a luxurious overnight stay at The Marker Hotel in Dublin. The total prize fund was worth a staggering €20,000.

The full festival included several ancillary events which ran on and off the track including the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Golf Classic which was held on Thursday the 26th of June at the Palmer Ryder Cup course at The K Club and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Ball, also held at The K Club on the eve of the derby which was in aid of The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation.

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