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Cheltenham style champion Yvonne McAvoy aims to repeat success

By Claire O'Boyle

Her stunning silk gown in emerald green turned heads at Cheltenham's Ladies' Day last year, earning Yvonne McAvoy the coveted best dressed crown.

And after becoming one of the most talked about winners in years, the Dungannon mum-of-four is heading back to the famous racecourse today for another turn on the turf.

Yvonne will join fashionistas from across the UK, and with women like AP McCoy's wife Chanelle, Zara Tindall and Gabby Logan already pulling out all the stops fashion-wise on day one of the festival yesterday, she's bound to have stiff competition on Ladies' Day.

"I'm really excited to be going back to Cheltenham," said 42-year-old Yvonne.

"My husband Patrick and I only decided last-minute to go after we had a good day at work, so it's all quite exciting. We've got an early flight over and a late flight back, so it should be a bit of a whirlwind day."

Luckily for stylish Yvonne, she's got plenty of options in the wardrobe.

"I have a dress I really love, it's very sophisticated," she joked. "It's mid-length, black and white from designer Poca Poca. I wore it to a wedding last month and I got lots of compliments, so it's definitely one to get another wear out of."

While she said she had no firm plans to return to Cheltenham, Yvonne did manage to get a hat specially made just in case.

"Well, you never know," she laughed. "Jennifer Wrynne, a Dublin milliner, made me a gorgeous hat and her brother drove it up to me on Sunday, so it's very special. We weren't sure if we would be able to go, but it's better to be safe than sorry." Looking back on her experience last year Yvonne, who runs a family nursing home business with her sisters, says she made lasting friendships, although she didn't get any bets up.

"I was pretty poor on the horse racing end of things," she said. "I put on a single bet of £500 and lost, so that was me done.

"I'm hoping this year I have a bit more luck, and that's what we're going for this time, to have fun and enjoy the racing. Patrick really loves the horses, so he can concentrate on that while I have a look at all the style.

"I'm looking forward to catching up with people we met last year - especially the girl who came third in the competition. Charlotte is from Cheltenham and we've stayed in touch all these months on social media. She's lovely and it will be great to see her again."

As last-minute preparations go, Yvonne managed to get it all together pretty quickly.

"I organised for my hair to be done on Tuesday night before I go to bed, and for a girl to come to the house at 4.30am to do my make-up before we head off for the flight," she said.

"And, of course, I don't need a fake tan because I'm from Northern Ireland and my tan is always great.

"I'm not taking it seriously in terms of winning again.

"Patrick and I are just looking forward to a lovely day out for the two of us.

"I might actually even win a bet this time."

The busy mum to James (11), John (9), Martha (4) and two-year-old Peter didn't exactly come away empty-handed last year though, winning £10,000 worth of prizes - including a diamond necklace, designer handbag, an afternoon at Chanelle McCoy's boutique, £1,000 worth of vouchers for House of Fraser, a leather skirt, custom-made riding boots and a hat.

Not bad for a little day out.

"I had no notion of seriously competing," said Yvonne, who is lined up to do TV interviews today. "I think they just spotted my dress because it was quite a striking colour.

"I absolutely loved it, especially because it was from a great local shop, The Boudoir in Dungannon. This year I've gone designer and I'm really happy with my choice.

"We only booked the flights and tickets for the races on Monday so it's fun already doing it all as such an off-the-cuff little trip. I think we'll have a great day, we're hoping for brilliant weather and lots of fun."

Belfast Telegraph

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