| 12.9°C Dublin

Cheltenham Diary: I've bet on comfort over style at festival, says mum-to-be Paula

GLAMOROUS WAG Paula Geraghty will be steering clear of the bubbly at her close pal Chanelle McCoy's annual marquee as she prepares for the arrival of her second child in May.

The Diary caught up with the yummy mummy as she and her other half, champion jockey Barry Geraghty, ahead of today's opening meeting at the Gloucestershire racecourse.

Paula explained how she had to ditch the designer heels while packing for this year's four-day festival, given that she will be on her feet all day, with her seven-and-a-half-month bump.

The qualified nutritionist will stay on to support her hubby until the close of the festival, with the couple flying home on Saturday to collect their five-year-old daughter Siofra from her mother's home in Kerry.

"I'm a bit anxious at this point but I'm excited as well and looking forward to it. There's always a great atmosphere once it gets under way," Paula explained.

"It is going to be a different kind of festival for me this year. It will be a long week on my feet so I had to think comfort when I was choosing my outfits.

"It was a bit quieter than usual at some of the Cheltenham preview nights but I'd imagine there will be a big crowd over," she added.

Paula is due to join her fellow WAGs at an exclusive luncheon organised by Tony McCoy's wife Chanelle this week, although it will be a strictly teetotal affair for the pretty brunette.


Her hubby Barry meanwhile revealed how he is looking forward to getting aboard Big Zeb in the Queen Mother Champion Chase tomorrow afternoon and hopes to defend his winning title from last year.

"I've a lot of good rides this week," he told the Diary.

"I would be a glass half-full person. When I go out to ride I reckon my horse has a chance of winning. You can call that confidence if you like, or just being positive," he added.

And the Meath man was still in flying form this morning when he stepped out to a press conference to share his top tips alongside Noel Meade, Colm Murphy and Patrick Mullins.

The event was hosted by Horse Racing Ireland, with acting PR manager Barbara McManus and they are all confidant the Irish will dominate the festival.

"We're really anticipating a great week for all the Irish runners, we've a good chance," she told the Diary.

"There's a lot of excitement here in Cheltenham now and despite the gloomy forecast about numbers being down on previous years, all the early flights leaving Dublin were full of Irish people travelling over to Cheltenham.

"You can feel the excitement around the town," she added.

It is expected that up to 220,000 spectators will flock to the course in the coming days with today's Centenary Day meeting kicking off the annual festival in style. Paddy Power, in particular, had plenty banking on today's first race after offering to refund all losing bets if Cue Card romps home in first place, with up to €1m riding on the outcome. Paddy himself agreed to be hooked up to a heart monitor to see just how fast his heart was beating during the race.


The famous bookie will join a host of big names throughout the week's proceedings with actor James Nesbitt, Alex Ferguson, JP McManus and many more all set to hit the track.

Meanwhile, tomorrow night will see many of Ireland's horsey set donning their finery for an invite-only event hosted by Punchestown racecourse at The Beehive bar in the town centre.