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Horses for courses as veruccas reign

Josie once punched a horse. And before any animal rights activists start complaining I can tell you that it was in self defence. Leaning over to pet him in a field the usually placid animal suddenly took a figary and sunk his teeth into her shoulder.

It was only when Josie delivered a slug between his eyes did he relinquish his quarry and canter off. My own experience of horses is that I fell off one when I was 12 and I still suffer from post-something disorder, while Maggie claims she is so allergic to the animal that merely driving past Paddy Powers brings on shortness of breath.

All this is just a preamble towards explaining when Patsy announced, during a wine-sodden lunch, that it would be a great day out if we attended Ladies' Day at the Dubai Irish Derby in the Curragh, the rest of us shook our heads.

"I can't stand horses," said Josie, absentmindedly rubbing her shoulder, while Maggie immediately started searching for her Ventolin.

"We're not going for ze horses," slurred Patsy, pouring herself another pint of wine. The three of us gave her our 'you've lost the plot' look but she was oblivious.

"Apparently," she went on to explain, "ze place is crawling with so many veruccas that I'll have no problem picking one up."

Now, there always comes a point in our occasional drink-fuelled lunches when the conversation starts to make no sense whatsoever. This point had arrived earlier than usual.

"What the f**k are you talking about? Veruccas are something you get on your foot!" Maggie said to her.

"Okay, not veruccas . . . what do you call them . . . eh . . . farouks."

I tried to explain that Mr Farouk was King of Egypt about a hundred years ago and wouldn't be turning up at the Donkey Derby never mind the Irish one, but I was wasting my time. It took a while but it was Josie who eventually joined the dots and realised that what Patsy was actually talking about were sheikhs.

"Yeah, sheikhs, that's what I mean," Patsy said, waving the bottle of Pinot Grigio around like a weapon. "Sheikhs with money coming out of their ears looking for a nice Irish girl to show them the sights of Kildare."

"You're not a girl -- you're an oul' one and the only sights the sheikhs want to see of Kildare is the sight from their helicopter when they fly outta here.

"Besides, what the hell do you want a sheikh for when you are in a relationship with my brother-in-law!" demanded Maggie.

"Just because you have chicken in ze fridge doesn't mean that you don't like your steak well done," replied Patsy.

We still don't know what that means.