Ireland is the Land of a Thousand Welcomes most of which were to be found lined up on the bar when I arrived.
There is something magnetic about Cheltenham. Politicians should try it. Everyone wants a piece of it and the great Irish tradition (and the excuse for some real craic) are the famous preview nights when the panel speak and the locals listen intently- very intently.
First stop the excellent GAA Club at Donaghmore Ashborne County Meath- less than a mile from where the immortal Arkle was sent to plunder more Cheltenham winners cheques than any other four legged creature fifty years ago. Now a statue to the great gelding, in his home town, is close to completion.
There is, even in this great country no statue either up, or planned to a tipster so I think I am safe for a while. The Members of the Irish Racegoers Club, meeting in Baldoyle on Sunday night can always disagree if they want- they seemed a worryingly intelligent bunch.
But the message from Ireland ahead of this Cheltenham was loud and clear. Willie Mullins, who some would like to see in a white cassock as proof of infallibility once this is all over has two ‘good things’ in Quevega and the Novice Pont Alexandre and that nice Michael O’Leary has every chance of making the presentation to himself after the Ryanair Chase if First Lieutenant turns up.
The people are fun and knowledgeable here, and leaving is not easy. If an Irishman told me to go to hell I would look forward to the trip. It has been that kind of adventure these past four days.
Now I have a week to get back on an even keel.
Mike ‘keep your halo straight’ Vince