Monday 24 April 2017

Eamonn Sweeney: Battle of the good guys not over yet

ITV’s Alice Plunkett approached Mullins and said in sympathetic tones, ‘We’re all hoping to see a Willie Mullins winner on the board.’ ‘So am I,’ replied Mullins. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
ITV’s Alice Plunkett approached Mullins and said in sympathetic tones, ‘We’re all hoping to see a Willie Mullins winner on the board.’ ‘So am I,’ replied Mullins. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Eamonn Sweeney

It was the hare and tortoise Cheltenham, a Festival which proved that even in national hunt you shouldn't jump to conclusions. It proved too that he, or she, who laughs last laughs loudest. And above all that Bob Dylan was on to something when he sang, 'Don't speak too soon, for the wheel's still in spin, and there's no telling who that it's naming. For the loser now will be later to win.'

Sizing John knew what it was like to be a loser. Destiny seemed to have marked him out for the sole purpose of illustrating the glory of Douvan. Sizing John was the dot in the distance, named by the commentator as an afterthought. "And it's eight lengths back to Sizing John in second," at Leopardstown last Christmas. Eighteen lengths back at Leopardstown the previous Christmas. Twelve lengths at Gowran Park, 22 at Punchestown, seven at Cheltenham this time last year and the year before that. He might not exactly have been a tortoise, but he looked it next to Douvan.

Then he left the stable of Henry de Bromhead for that of Jessica Harrington, who had an idea which, like all great ideas, sounds the essence of simplicity after the event. Why not switch Sizing John to a longer distance?

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