So three down, and about another eight to go- The Cheltenham Preview roadshow has begun and the search for information on in earnest.
So far the tape machine has one trainer announcing he’ll retire if two of his horses win at Cheltenham, and some of racing’s best wordsmiths have yet to have their say.
First Nicky Henderson, then Paul Nicholls and on to Colin Tizzard- the welcome warm and friendly everywhere, though as far as I know none of them play bowls to do a Sir Francis Drake in the wake of the impending Mullins Armada. But they must have half a dozen winners between them- Thistlecrack looked outstanding and although its target is unclear, All Yours from the Nicholls string looked amazing.
Next its danger time- behind enemy lines. Ireland on Saturday night for four days- Leopardstown, Mullins and Elliott the lead agenda.
The Irish are a wonderful people- if an Irishman told me to go to hell I’d look forward to the trip, but they don’t mess about. They either have the winner or they claim it- ridden by an Irish born jockey you know the form.
They even work their Cheltenham horses after racing at Leopardstown- sadly with no number cloths or jockeys in silks, so you have to draw your own conclusions.
I always look forward to the annual pilgrimage to Willie Mullins yard- it’s the directions that tell you ‘Turn Right at the Cemetry’. Yes it does take you to another world, where the list of what’s not running at Cheltenham will be shorter.
A year ago an Irishman told me Willie Mullins only needs a one way ticket to Cheltenham- he can walk home as a hero even across the Irish Sea.
And what’s this I hear about someone in Ireland planning to bring a white cassock to the Festival this year…….
They do things in style do the Irish- as next week will remind me.
By Mike Vince.