Sunday 19 November 2017

Lucky hats and top tips as punters head to Cheltenham

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

COULD the last person to leave the country please turn off the lights? The exodus, it appears, has reached feverish proportions.

Over Stateside, the Taoiseach is once again frantically pressing the shamrock; elsewhere a battalion of ministers will be whispering in ears as far away as the United Arab Emirates and China, that, er, we are in need of a few jobs.

In comparison, the latest escape artists were, frankly, a far more sedate bunch. The annual exodus to the Mecca of national hunt racing, Cheltenham, got under way yesterday.


One punter, Willie Webb, who owns Webb Motors, in Rialto, Dublin, said of the recession: "There were eight of us going other years, now we are down to two. You might not be punting as big, but you'll still punt."

Holding onto his hat adorned with crocodile teeth, Mr Webb explained it was bought after a horse delivered at the meet four years ago. "It's been lucky ever since," he added.

"As far as we know there is no law against having fun, even in a recession," quipped businessman Michael Corrigan, from Portmarnock, Co Dublin.

Some of his compadres in 'The Best of the Rest' syndicate, including auctioneer Noel Kelly, from Portmarnock, have been braving it since 1988.

One of their most memorable meets was when they cashed in on Moscow Flyer's success in 2002.

Michael Johnson and John Lynam, from Ardclough, Co Kildare, admitted there was "a lot of mileage" up on their 'lucky' hats.

Kilkenny natives Kate Gunner (19), a first-year student of teaching, and her mother Eileen were planning to keep a close watch on the neighbouring county's Willie Mullin's exploits.

Punters take note as the Carlow trainer feels his best chances of seeing the winner's enclosure are in tomorrow's Novice Hurdle with Enterprise Park and Quel Esprit.

Last year, Kildare man Ruby Walsh was elevated to the status of demi-god after he delivered seven winners.

This time round there are so many Irish bankers, of the four-legged type, mind you, being bandied around that it is hard to know who to trust.

Hopes are pinned on at least a couple of the five Irish horses that are favourites for today's races including the JP McManus-owned Captain Cee Bee in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy, as well as rising star Dunguib.

Irish Independent

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