The Cheltenham Festival – Day 2
Dispatches from the front line of The Greatest Show On Turf
The Cheltenham Festival, Wednesday 13th March
A group of mates I like to call ‘London Irish’ were huddled, as they usually are, in a corner of the Mandarin Bar. I visited them there shortly before the Coral Cup, an impossible-to-predict 24-runner handicap that has the bookies cackling all the way to the bank. The boys have a group bet each Festival – twenties in and hope for the best – and for reasons unknown this is the race they targeted this year. Medinas, a 33/1 shot from the Alan King yard, was Sean’s selection.
Rounding the home bend, as the gloves came off, Medinas got a nice run up the inner but still had a handful of lengths to find on the leaders approaching the final flight of hurdles. “Come on, Medinas,” a few of the lads said. Over the last and Medinas winged it, eating further into the deficit. “Come on, Medinas!” Maybe he could nab a place. The leaders weren’t stopping but the selection continued to power up the hill. “Come on, Medinas!” He couldn’t, could he? Oh yes he could, scooting clear in the final half furlong to land the mother of all touches. The place went wild. This is what the Festival’s all about.
Sean’s now inherited the nickname ‘Judge’, without a trace of irony. Seany, Mart, Dec, Chris, Bern, Walt, Stu, other Sean and Christian: take a bow.
Earlier, the Neptune Investments Novices’ Hurdle, often the best race of the week, saw The New One give Nigel Twiston-Davies a welcome big-race success. The stable has been under something of a cloud with a bug in the yard and no winner this month. But the trainer’s son, Sam galvanised The New One and the pair shot clear to win in convincing fashion, giving shrewd punters who’d taken the 11/2 on offer this morning (ahem) a nice little windfall.
In other news, oh yes, Sprinter Sacre demolished the opposition in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, recording a provisional Timeform rating of 192, the highest in history. It was nothing short of an honour and a privilege to witness this freak of nature. The showiest of show ponies, a big bruising brute of an animal with a ‘look at me’ aura who is quite simply the most incredible equine athlete the sport has ever seen.Tagged in: betting, cheltenham festival, gambling, horse racing
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