This job has many elements, but one of the most enjoyable takes place away from the hustle and bustle of the racecourse- and it starts this week.
The Road to Cheltenham will in the next few weeks take me to Berkshire, Somerset( and thoughts are very much with a few racing friends from that county as they battle with a shocking hand dealt them by the Almighty) , County Carlow, Gloucestershire, County Meath, County Dublin and the Somerset Devon border- and there could be more.
Now’s the time to talk to Owners, Trainers and Jockeys to find out whats really going to win those 27 races at the Greatest Show on Turf at the Cheltenham Festival just over 4 weeks away as I write this and to start the build up to the one racing event that gets everyone talking.
My schedule includes a night on what has become more and more popular in Ireland- The Cheltenham Preview Evening. A panel of experts gathers with dozens of punting hopefuls hanging on their every syllable and talks through all the races. I am delighted to be heading to Donaghmore Ashborne GAA club in County Meath on Friday 28th February to join the star cast of trainers Jim Dreaper and Tom Taafe (descendants of the men who sent Arkle to Cheltenham and immortality), jockeys Andrew Lynch and Andy Mcnamara and others.
I don’t remember what time it ended last year, but I do remember meeting an Irishman at Leopardstown two days later who told me he was sorry to miss it but it clashed with another he was attending- and that was his 11th Preview Night of the Year!!
They do their homework in Ireland- last year it was a case of Veni Vidi Vici at Cheltenham on 14 occasions. No wonder their race fans come back for more.
And the good news is they get so many tips, you can always deny a loser was one of yours anyway.
Mike ‘Keep your halo straight’ Vince