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Cheltenham Festival: What a week!

I hate the A40 at Oxford, especially the one time a year when I have to negotiate it on a Friday night- on the way back from the Cheltenham Festival.

Wet and uncared for fields either side- huge traffic queues you name it, it has it.

But it does give you time to reflect. Time to think of a week when you have been through and encountered every emotion. From Sprinter Sacre wowing a spellbound Champion Chase crowd, to Bobsworth’s thrilling Gold Cup to the news of John Thomas- a jockey noone, and I mean noone, in this great sport would ever say a bad word about.

It was a week I won’t forget, and neither will many others- jockeys like young Brendan Powell who rode his first Festival winner what seems an eternity ago last Tuesday- the latest to follow in his fathers footsteps, Bryan Cooper, who impressed hugely when I sat on the same Preview Panel as him as an outstanding young talent- and boy how he proved that this week- to the Irish pilgrims who watched a record 14 wins for the Boys in Green( shame about the rugby!).

You cannot do this job alone- and in the likes of Barry Geraghty(especially), Willie and Patrick Mullins, David Pipe and Robbie Power you have guys who go out of their way to be helpful. They know theirs is a story to tell the world at Cheltenham week and give of their time to help tell it.

But for us all, as the A 40 is about to be replaced by the ‘Virgin Experience’ as Aintree and the Grand National beckons, there is one story that every single one of them would want to tell- that their stricken colleague John Thomas McNamara makes progress in his hospital bed.

Let us pray.

Mike ‘Keep your halo straight’ Vince