I should have guessed- Monday’s eve of meeting visit to Cheltenham Racecourse and you could have been forgiven for thinking an announcement of an imminent twinning with Siberia- in a bid to get Russian runners to the Festival!
It was that cold- and an early call from a colleague on Tuesday morning simply to tell me Cheltenham had been minus 12 at midnight was just so unwelcoming. This is no ordinary event. The welcome is terrific, the management superb, access to the principals easy and absolutely no ‘us and them’
But I should have known the welcome news they were going to take on the Ticket Tout problem would have a sting in the tale- how did the wretched Jack Frost get a ticket?
Day 1 produced magical moments- Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle and the amazing mare Quevega winning a fifth Mares Hurdle was one of those ‘I was there moments’.
The good news is that the Irish are here in force and in good spirits- no excuse needed for a party then. Leaving on Day One half of them were hoping Willie Mullins would be in a white cassock and Ruby Walsh wearing a crown. The pair have probably financed half the Irish pilgrimages to next year already.
And there’s more to come- Pont Alexandre on Wednesday and Ballycasey on Friday are well fancied to name but two.
Its ‘mercy’ cries from the bookies and ‘merci’ from the Punters. Most believe that after Day 1 on the big stage neither Mullins nor Walsh need worry about plane tickets home. They can walk all the way.
Mike ‘Keep your halo straight’ Vince from a very ‘cold’ Cheltenham!