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British leg over, Ireland here I come

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Good news folks! I have all 27 winners of the Cheltenham Festival 2015.

Bad news- they are in a list of some 1800 equine legends (well each and everyone is to those that own it) in the list of entries and weights in my bag!

Here endeth the British leg of the pre Cheltenham tour, on a wild windy and wet Gloucestershire morning at the stable of Nigel Twiston-Davies who saddles The New One, who alone stands against the Irish heavy artillery in the Champion Hurdle on Day One- I wonder if like Sir Francis Drake he is any good at bowls?

The great man, always welcoming, hospitable and just good fun, passes on a good word for Little Jon wherever he may turn up at The Festival.

One piece of advice I always give to Festival virgins if asked is ‘Avoid Cheltenham’ by which I mean the town. Paracetamol salesman do a roaring trade there during Festival week and it is the greatest living advertisement for ‘NessunDorma’ that I know.

Outside of the Festival it’s different. I chanced a nightat a race mad hotel yards from GCHQ this week, a hotel rich in Festival legend.

The best concerns a much loved Irish Priest, sadly no longer with us, who always boasted of drawing his ‘most attentive congregation of the year’ at a traditional Mass for Winners on the first morning of the Festival where they reportedly pioneered the concept of a silent collection- No coins!

Speaking of outside help, there is a growing belief that the Samaritans will need extra help on the first day of this year’s Festival, either for the bookmakers who will face holidays in Clacton rather than  the Costa Fortuna if the series of Willie Mullins ‘good things’ all bolt up on day one, or thousands of desolate and inconsolable punters if they don’t.

So it’s back to Ireland, to the real heart of pre Festival fever- a Preview night with the greats- Noel Meade, Sandra Hughes, Adrian Heskin and Andrew Lynch amongst others, where I have long since got to a fine art the old maxim ‘ignorance is bliss’ and then more Trainers and Jockeys to question.

At least I have got plenty of reading to do.


By Mike Vince