There is an article in this month’s Owner & Breeder magazine that suggests that of all the passionate noises in sport perhaps the roar when the tapes go up before the opening race on the Tuesday of the Cheltenham festival is the greatest of them all. It then goes on to say that this is about kinship rather than horses and it is the sign that we have all survived another year and have returned for the great games. It is this kinship and shared passion that makes the Cheltenham Festival so special, it is also a sign that spring is coming, after a long dark winter through which people have been pursuing this bonkers sport from Exeter to Fakenham, from Ffos Laas to Musselburgh to Thurles and Clonmel, we all come together for the championships and the enthusiasm displayed by those embedded in the sport is so infectious that many thousands that only dip their toe in once a year are swept along and find it utterly absorbing.
So as usual on Monday lunchtime we will stuff the car full and head down the motorway, a long but excited drive. One might have thought that with this drive in prospect and having been to Ayr twice, Newcastle and Carlisle in the last 5 days that I might have skipped the p2p at Alnwick yesterday, can’t keep away really so I rose early to do my office work and sped down the road, duly rewarded with a rare 1-2 in the first race – Kit on Ocarina denying his Uncle Jamie on Noir et Vert by a length, great stuff, then in the Men’s Open Native Coll made a valiant effort to make all but was just collared on the run-in to finish 2nd. That’s 30 for the season, 25 on the racecourse and an equally important 5 between the flags, can hardly believe it, 15 was the target, many thanks to the horses, jockeys, supportive owners and great team of dedicated and hard working staff who make it all possible (and don’t forget Mrs A).
So, Cheltenham beckons, as ever I have tried to find a guest tipster, this year I am opting for one from the fairer sex, technology allowing the beautiful Barbara will be supplying us with a selection of winners……. watch this space!