Declan Lynch: Paddy can truly be free ... in England
The Irish punter always has a great Cheltenham festival -- and this year should be no different, writes Declan Lynch
THERE is an hour just before the start of Cheltenham every year, when Paddy is truly happy, when Paddy is free.
It is Paddy's Golden Hour, this sweet interlude when he contemplates the great festival that lies ahead of him, when everything seems possible. Even after a week in which some greenhorn punter at Exeter won the jackpot of £1.4m for a £2 stake, proving that the only way to win at the horses is to know absolutely nothing about them, no sadness can trouble Paddy now, as he raises a glass, and then another glass, in anticipation of the glories that are to come.
He has been building up to this for months, assembling his ante-post portfolio as he attends those pre-Cheltenham nights in country hotels, preparing himself for his annual tour of duty with the sort of attention to detail which would have served him well in business or in his personal life -- not that such things ever mattered much to him. And, certainly, they don't matter much any more.