I had a good Cheltenham. Not as good as Rachael Blackmore or Jack Kennedy.
It was especially satisfying for me because I know absolutely shag-all about horse racing. Not a blessed thing.
And that’s despite being sent to Cheltenham and Galway and Listowel over the years, to cover the social aspect of those events.
For example, my happiest memory from Galway is going on the lash with Peter Langan, owner of the legendary, Michelin starred Langan’s Brasserie in London.
Indeed, I remember once going off to place a bet on a horse at the races in Tralee, during the festival having been given a tip for a “sure thing.”
Odds were 5/4 or something. So I decided to back a horse with a nice name.
I put my quid on Shannons Light at 30/1.
And it won!
That first year I went to the Festival of Tralee in 1971, a friend and I went to the races and I put a shilling on a horse called Persuming which won at 13/1. Pure luck. (I remember the names of the horses, by the way, because I think they’re two of the very small number of winners I ever backed in my life.)
I went to collect my 13 shillings and the cranky bookie told me to come back.
I waited and went back half an hour later.
He pointed to his clerk and I handed him the ticket.
He began handing me pound notes. “One, two, three, four…”
And then it dawned on me.
I had forgotten to get my change. So they had taken it that I’d put a whole pound on this outsider.
So I won £13. In 1971. Sure, you’d nearly buy a car with that much money!
Anyway, this week was good. I backed a good few winners – including Put The Kettle on in a race I believe is called the Champion Chase and of course Minella Indo in the Gold Cup.
I also backed several long odds losers – including one horse which finished a lowly seventh in its race – only to discover that Paddy Power was paying SEVEN PLACES in that race.
The bets were small. But I got a return on almost every one.
So if there’s a newspaper out there looking for a tipster, odds are, I could do the job.
Long odds, mind.