Fingers off pulse as win surprises crowd
THE Taoiseach wasn't looking too excited by the fact that horse number 25 was travelling well in the big race of the day, the Galway Plate. It was going great guns down the back straight, tucked nicely in third place a few jumps from home.
And who could blame Brian? For the last thing he probably wanted to do was have to present the winning trophy to the owners, trainer and jockey of a steed called Bringbackthebiff.
It would've mightily tickled the large crowd gathered around the parade ring for the presentation, and it definitely would've made the day of the assembled media who were already writing the fun headlines -- but alas it wasn't to be.
Poor Biff faded towards the closing stages, leaving JP McManus's horse Finger Onthe Pulse to storm home.
And it seemed that not many punters at the track had their collective fingers on the pulse of this particular horse which had been overlooked in the betting ring as an avalanche of cash poured on to another Weld wizard, Majestic Concorde.
But Finger Onthe Pulse became a horse of an entirely different colour when he acquired a new jockey, Tony McCoy, after the last-minute withdrawal of the champion jockey's mount from the race.
In fact, the only loud cheering to be heard when Tony's horse thundered past the finish line was the howls of relief from the bookmakers who had taken a battering the previous day courtesy of four Weld winners.
In the parade ring after the race, JP McManus was being congratulated by well-wishers. He admitted that he didn't think this particular horse in his extensive stable was in the running to win the Plate.
"It's one of those races you plan to win so long in advance," he said. "I never thought it would be Finger Onthe Pulse."
JP said that he had advised tip hunters that "a fiver each way would give them a good run for their money -- which is more than I had on it myself", he added, although one birdie suggested the canny operator may indeed have plonked down a few euro on it for the craic.
Also thrilled with the win was Tony McCoy's wife, Chanelle, who was dressed in a cream Lanvin dress.
"It was great to see, but very tense to watch," she said.
She reckoned she and Tony would celebrate the win but would be "taking it easy" as the jockey is back in action at the track today and she will be also back for Ladies' Day, along with various social scene regulars, including former Miss World Rosanna Davison and her not-so bosom buddy Glenda Gilson, who is one of the judges of the competition.
And with the weather holding up (so far), a huge crowd is expected in Ballybrit today when racing takes a back-seat to the High Hat Hurdle with the off-track action of Ladies' Day.
And given the broke days that are in it, the prizes for the Anthony Ryan's Best Dressed Lady and Best Hat competition should have the frocks out in force -- the haul includes an €8,500 diamond pendant, a €1,500 shopping spree in Anthony Ryans and €1,000 cash.
If the Taoiseach was having any luck with the horses he was keeping it to himself. He handed €50 over to bookie Tom Kennedy to place on the nose of an outsider, Five Dream, in the big race.
But he was in sunny form as he wandered around the track, collecting tips. However, he had marked his own card when it came to a punt. "There are a lot of opinions in Galway and that can be a problem. But I always go with my own judgment," he explained. "There's a lot of people who come here that genuinely think they are going to win, but then you have five others saying the same thing."
So it's a bit like a pre-Budget Cabinet meeting? Brian laughed at the notion.
"This is the antithesis of a governmental meeting," he said.
"The difference between this is that you can come out and meet people and you don't have to worry about what decisions you're making," he added.
Still, he's off on his holliers shortly, to have a rest before the resumption of business at the end of September, which is shaping up to be another tough term.
"They're all tough, but if it was easy then anyone could do it," he said bravely.
Maybe it was the large crowd of 20,446, but Brian didn't bump into Bertie who was also strolling around on his last day before heading to Kerry for his annual family holiday. "I'll be building sandcastles and chasing pinkeens this weekend," said the proud grandpa.
However, Brian did have a winner in the fourth race. And the name of the nag? Endless Intrigue. Now why did he pick that one?