12 February 2018

The Irish cannot wait!

You get asked many strange questions in this job, but I must admit I wasn’t prepared, when getting into a taxi at my hotel a week ago after Day 1 of the Leopardstown Festival, for the driver to enquire: ‘Do you suffer from vertigo?’

This was his response to me asking to be taken to what I at that moment found out was Ireland’s highest pub, to which I had been invited by senior officials of Horse Racing Ireland and Leopardstown Racecourse, who staged a quite superb Dublin Racing Festival where stars that will lead the Irish assault on Cheltenham next month were paraded in race after race.

Ireland is a land of 100,000 welcomes – I think I met most during that weekend! It also reminded me that the countdown to the biggest week of all – Cheltenham – is upon us, and the Irish fancy their chances of yet more Brit bashing in little over a month from now.

Johnny Fox’s, the pub in question, was a place to try and plead for dual citizenship that night – the sense of anticipation has begun in earnest. The Boys in Green are on the march.

Next week there’s one distraction – the weights for the Randox Health Grand National are announced, then it’s all about finding 28 winners (no make that 27 – a clear round sees Altior win on the basis of Saturday) and it’s first port of call, Seven Barrows, where the soup offered is always a treat and there is so much information you can’t digest anything else.

Lots to see, lots to do and lots of people to interrogate – a busy month ahead!

Having been to the top in Ireland – it’s now a downhill run to The Festival!

The Irish cannot wait!

by Mike Vince