Action from last year's Cheltenham Festival.
(FOR TOMORROW'S PRINT EDITION OF THE DUNDALK DEMOCRAT)
The bible. I’m continuing to buy into it, but not buy it. Having been given the now-regular hike in price leading on to the Cheltenham Festival (up 30c), the Racing Post is, at €3.80, far too dear for a daily paper. Do the maths and you find it works out at in the region of €1,400 for a year’s read. That’s an extravagance, but probably wouldn’t be seen as such by many who populate the racing game.
I’m reminded here of a story I was told recently. A couple decided to treat themselves to a weekend in one of the country’s top hotels. It’s something they’d been planning for a while. On arrival they headed straight for the bar. It had been a long journey and they were thirsty. The order was a pint of Carlsberg and a bottle of Heineken.
“That’ll be €12.20, please.”
“You’re not making a mistake, are you?”
“No, €6.80 for the Carlsberg and €5.40 for the Heino. You’ll see it on the receipt.”
“Could I see the manager, please?”
“Your problem, Sir?”
“This is a disgraceful price for two drinks.”
“Well, the way it is, Sir, the people who regularly come here don’t mind paying that sort of money.”
The good news is, if you want to read the Racing Post’s good – and bad – news, you don’t necessarily have to throw money across your newsagent’s counter. It can be read for free in the bookie’s, which is what I’ve been doing for a while. So, while we former Lucky 15 punters are still smarting over the loss of treble the odds on a single winner, it’s not all take by the enemy. Other daily papers are there for perusal, and there’s complimentary coffee and biscuits.
This year’s Cheltenham Festival gets underway this afternoon and runs until Friday, when the feature of the four-day meeting, the Gold Cup, is decided. There’ll be thousands on the Cotswolds and millions more watching on telly. Among the latter will be many who take a week’s holiday to coincide with what’s often referred to as the Olympics of National Hunt horse racing.
Philip Reynolds owns one of the leading fancies for the Gold Cup, Presenting Percy. The son of former Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, was featured in an RP story the other day, and in it said the first horse he owned was called Frances Street. (Formerly the property of a group of Dundalk enthusiasts.)
The spelling of that horse’s name is interesting. Owenie Conroy, a mentor in my days in the Democrat print works, always maintained that Francis Street, one of Dundalk’s oldest thorough- fares, was incorrectly spelt on nameplates, etc. He was certain it commemorated Lord Roden’s daughter, and it would seem he wasn’t alone in his thinking.
Reynolds’ runner is a very skimpy price for a horse having his first run of the season over the bigger obstacles. Kemboy (10/1), going for Willie Mullins, most of whose runners are featured in an article in this paper, looks better value.
Though Cheltenham tips are never in short supply, and should most times be treated with caution, one that has come this way from England might be worth a small each-way tickle. Itchy Feet, trained by a former Gordon Elliott student, Olly Murphy, is certain to go off at a working man’s price for the first of this afternoon’s races.