I bought it for my wedding but I was pregnant getting married so it didn’t fit,” says Mary Gardiner, who was crowned most sustainably dressed lady at Kilbeggan Races’ biggest meeting of the year on 8 July.

The yoga instructor who grew up on the farm beside the racecourse donned a white jumpsuit that she had planned to wear on her wedding day, paired with a floral headpiece which she made herself that morning.

“I salvaged my mother-in-law’s garden this morning for some flowers and made the crown myself, my shoes are my wedding shoes also,” she said.

Judge on the evening, Mark Rogers, said that Gardiner “stole the show” with her outfit which he described as “amazing”.

The beauty expert who features on Maura and Daithí’s Today show on RTÉ, said: “We wanted a story. It’s about that sustainable piece.

We had some amazing style and for me I really wanted to know how they pulled it [the outfit] together and how they brought the sustainable theme to life. Mary was a perfect example.”

Mary Gardiner, most sustainably dressed lady \ Pat Healy Racing

There were over 150 ladies chosen on the night by the judges and just 10 made it to the final round.

The theme of sustainability was also paramount to Gemma McDonagh from Headford in Co Galway who was one of the 10 finalists.

McDonagh wore a V-neck midi dress in lilac that she rented from Dress Me Up Rentals in Galway along with a matching headpiece, which was also rented. The sustainable cherry on top was her second-hand shoes from Depop.

I made the hat myself, the gold part is a dinner place mat and I did the same with the handbag

Meanwhile, a head piece made from a place mat was the brainchild of Anne Reynolds from Mullingar, Co Westmeath, who stepped out in a striking red jumpsuit.

“I made the hat myself, the gold part is a dinner place mat and I did the same with the handbag. I borrowed the jumpsuit from my sister which she got in River Island, the jewellery is from Oxfam in Mullingar and the shoes are from Zara,” she said.

The move from best dressed lady to most sustainably dressed lady was the idea of racecourse manager Paddy Dunican who said the committee wanted to move away from best dressed lady type events.

“Our feature race, the AXA Farm Insurance Midlands National went to a graded race for the first time this year and we had our first ever sustainable style competition in Kilbeggan this evening.

It was sponsored by Bellamianta and organised by Valerie Roe and was a fantastic success. It is great to see everyone make such a huge effort for sustainable style and see a local win the competition,” Paddy Dunican, Managing Director of Kilbeggan Races said.

Winning ladies

The other main lady on the night was the Gordon Elliot-trained Hurricane Georgie who took home the feature race. The five-year-old mare was ridden to glory by Jack Kennedy making it her fourth win from 15 runs.


Watering of the course was key in order to get the ground in good condition for the night, according to Dunican.

“The biggest challenge was to get the ground right. We’re after having very hot weather for the last few days and the ground kept drying on us. But we kept watering the course early morning to late at night.

“The trainers entered the horses so it was up to us to provide the platform today and to make sure to provide a safe platform so that all the horses ran and go home safely,” he said.