By Mike Vince
I have often asked one of the connections of a big race winner ‘what’s it like on top of the world?’- well people were asking that of me this week as I took the lift to the 35th floor of the Sky Garden in London for the announcement of the weights for the Crabbies Grand National to be run at Aintree on April 9th.
And it’s a very strange feeling, let me tell you looking down on St Pauls Cathedral!
Its always a key day in the year as it almost fires the starting gun for the great tour ahead of the Trinity of Racing Festivals- Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown.
But no sooner was it over- a great occasion with the draw handing me a seat next to legendary Irish Handicapper Noel O’Brien and two away from Nicky Henderson on a table which also included Trainer Gordon Elliott- then the National goes on the back burner as Cheltenham takes over- and how!- as the very next day came news of Faugheen’s injury and exit from the Champion Hurdle.
But this week it’s hit the road time. We start at the said Mr Henderson on Monday. You have to admire the brilliant way he handles these occasions and answering questions from all pressmen great and small. Last year was simply a masterclass. Two hours he was at it and not once did he utter the two words that will send the Irish into ecstasy and the bookies into nervous palpatations- Willie Mullins.
How one hopes for good news from there of Sprinter Sacre at the start of the week which also included the Godolphin Stable staff awards- the genuine delight of everyone is a humbling experience before risking two days in Somerset and Dorset hosted by first Paul Nicholls and secondly Colin and Joe Tizzard.
And all this before the end of the month and the flight to go ’behind enemy lines’ to Ireland.
You can learn too much on these trips- my first year I went to four trainers and they all had their ‘Naps’- the good things for the Festival in the same race, while I couldn’t help but sympathise with the trainer two years ago who told me he had two real good chances- in the final two races of the week on the Friday afternoon.
This is the time of year I realise I have the best job in the world, a long suffering partner who realises (bless her) that I need to stay away in local establishments for work and not to enjoy an evening with colleagues (please no one give the game away) and a full charged and MOT’d set of recording equipment.
Wanted- 28 winners for Cheltenham.
Is that too much to ask?
Updates may follow. If not, you all know why.