Former farmer and haulier Paddy ‘Whacker’ Behan is living the Cheltenham dream
It will be all quiet in the Behan household in Laois just shortly after lunchtime today (Tuesday), but expect an eruption of shouting and cheering if Altior jumps the last fence at Cheltenham and storms to victory in the Arkle Trophy.
"I am not a man for shouting myself but there will be some shouting here at home if Altior wins. All I hope is that everything goes well for the horse," says Paddy 'Whacker' Behan who bred the top-class chaser and warm favourite for today's feature race.
"I knew we had a good horse from the day he was born and so did the horse agent from Rathangan who bought him from me for €17,000. He saw something special in him when he saw him lying in the field, though he never told me what that 'special' was," says Paddy.
"The horse is regarded as the Seabiscuit of Tierhogar around these parts and everyone will be shouting for him," the 64-year-old former sugar beet farmer and haulier for both Odlums and the former Irish Sugar company told the Farming Independent.
Paddy never thought he had a Cheltenham contender on his hands when he met the agent that Sunday afternoon, but he knew he had a good horse.
"We had interest from the Michael O'Leary operation and while I don't usually do business on a Sunday, the family - wife Rose and farming son Paddy Jr on the horse breeding side - persuaded me to do the deal and accept the offer because you never know when a horse might get injured or break a leg.
"The agent told me later that when he saw Altior he was never going to leave the farm without buying the horse," Paddy recalls.
The horse was sold on to English owner Patricia Pugh who in turn sent him to leading British trainer Nicky Henderson who then turned him into the champion he is today.