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June 10, 2009

Launch of the Irish Derby Festival 2009

Derby Festival launch The Irish Derby Festival taking place this year from the 26-28th of June at the Curragh Racecourse promises to be one of the most spectacular sporting and social events of the year.  This world famous festival was launched at an exclusive event at the K Club in Straffan, Co. Kildare last night. A host of celebrities, trainers, jockeys and representatives of the world of racing attended the event where they enjoyed a selection of delicious canapés and sipped the new Bollinger Irish Derby Cocktail.

TV3’s Colette Fitzpatrick is pictured with the K Club golf head professional, Lynn McCool and Dubai born jockey, Ahmed Ajtebi.  The trio were at the K Club to launch the Irish Derby Festival featuring the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Dubai born jockey, Ahmed Ajtebi was the guest of honour at the launch.  His rise to fame has been remarkable and he is now a major sporting hero in his native country launching himself on the international racing scene by winning two of the world’s most valuable races on the Dubai World Cup race day last March. He hopes to have his first rides in Ireland during the Irish Derby Festival. The launch also included fantastic fashion from Kildare Village, top tips on being fashion savvy in these economic times from IMAGE editor, Melanie Morris, racing information from Curragh Racecourse Manager, Paul Hensey and a chat with Paolo Tullio about the forthcoming, “Taste of Ireland” Foodfest which will be an additional attraction during the weekend.

Dubai Duty Free will celebrate their second year as title sponsor of the Irish Derby.   The company, which is headed by Galway native, Colm McLoughlin is one of the largest duty free operators in the world and a winner of several international business, travel and retail awards.

Kildare Village Derby Friday kicks off the weekend of racing with a fun packed evening starting at 6pm with seven exciting races featuring the Ballygallon Stud Stakes  together with a packed programme of entertainment, including live music from the legendary Furey Brothers & Davy Arthur after racing at 9pm.

Saturday is one of the most fashionable racing days of the year with high drama on the track and high fashion in the enclosures with Europe’s leading fillies lining up in the Audi-sponsored Pretty Polly Stakes. Group 1 winners Again, Sariska, Look Here, Lush Lashes are amongst the first entries for the race. A great prize is up for grabs for the Kildare Village Most Stylish Hat Competition and ladies will be keen to get their hands on the top prize of a €2,000 shopping spree at Kildare Village. 

There will be a host of celebrity fashion judges on the prowl too, so keep your eyes peeled for some well known faces around the track including the glamorous Newtalk presenter, Claire Byrne Orla Murtagh (wife of Johnny Murtagh), Melanie Morris, editor of IMAGE magazine and Maria McGovern of Kildare Village.

All eyes will be on Sea The Stars on Sunday as he attempts to become the first horse to complete the English 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby treble since the great Nijinsky in 1970.  The John Oxx trained performer is a true Kildare Lilywhite having been born, raised and trained on the Curragh and is ridden by Kildare resident Michael Kinane. 

The best of fashion, entertainment, hospitality and most importantly fun combines to make Derby Day one of the greatest race days of the year.  A fantastic €5,000 shopping spree, courtesy of Kildare Village awaits the lady who is judged to be the most stylish on derby day. This year the panel of fashion judges on derby Sunday includes representatives of the fashion sponsor, Kildare Village, the editor of IMAGE magazine, Melanie Morris and Amber le Bon, the celebrity model and daughter of Simon and Yasmin le Bon.

With no reserved enclosure this year a €40 admission ticket provides access throughout the racecourse with the Bollinger Champagne Bar and Taste of Ireland enclosure guaranteed to be some of the most sought after places to hang out during the day, while the Star On Sunday entertainment marquee features a lively mixture of live music and comedy from 12 noon.

For the first time, the stars of racing will be joined by the stars of the culinary world when 15 of Ireland’s top restaurants and chefs will offer a selection of signature dishes for people to sample for just €8 each in a purpose build enclosure next to the parade ring.  Leading chefs will be on hand including Neven Maguire, Kevin Dundon, Oliver Dunne, Ross Lewis and Richard Corrigan who will be cooking up a storm in the Miele demo kitchen with well known foodie, Paolo Tullio acting as MC.  

Kildare based soprano Lorraine Nolan will be joined by the No.1 Army Band and the acclaimed Baldonnel Singers when they perform a new arrangement of the traditional ballad which has become the Irish Derby anthem. A very special gown with “an equine twist” has been designed especially for Lorraine to wear by New York based designer, Annique Lambe who is originally from the Curragh.

A variety of great value dining and hospitality packages are available over all three days. These range from packages in the stunning IMAGE Derby Pavillion on Derby Day to a €20 Punters Package and the Kildare Village Derby Friday Big Bash Ticket with entertainment throughout the evening with Stephen Keogh of Kildare FM and former Big Brother housemate Ray Shah on Friday evening.

An exciting number of ancillary events taking place at the K Club include The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Ball on Saturday 27th June which will benefit the Kildare Community and Education Partnership. The evening which will be hosted by TV3’s Collette Fitzpatrick will feature a pre drinks reception, followed by a lavish dinner and dancing till late to the Camembert Quartet of Tubidy Tonight fame. Tickets for the Derby Ball are priced at €100 per person.

The second Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Golf Classic take place on Friday 26th June on the world famous Palmer.  This four ball competition costing €200 per person will include brunch on arrival, golf on the world famous Palmer course which played host to the Ryder Cup in 2006, a BBQ that evening and a selection of gift and prizes, courtesy of main sponsors, Dubai Duty Free.

Official media partner Newstalk will broadcast live from the races over the weekend, while other partners include Woodies DIY, Netjets, The Irish Times, Image Magazine, At The Races, Barronstown Stud, Silken Thomas, N Conlan & Sons, William Fry and Jondol.

There is a 20% discount off the cost of all admission tickets at