Sarah O’Flaherty is Paddy Power’s guerilla reporter on the ground at Cheltenham. Here’s her latest dispatch from Prestbury Park (and the nightclubs).
Paddy Power is sending in the tranquilizer vet to hunt down Chavs today… and not a minute too soon after what I witnessed last night. There were plenty of star footballers in town. Perfect Chav bait. I met the Sunderland football squad as they partied in the Queens Hotel at the Laurent-Perrier champagne bar, a smart chill-out zone.
Irish defender John O’Shea was there. “I’m keeping an eye on these youngsters,” he told me. By youngsters, he means Sunderland team-mates Wes Brown and Fraizer Campbell – all former Manchester United buddies, of course. I was nearly signed up as a goalkeeper after catching a wayward glass or two of the fizz.
The two cheeky chappies either side of me in the above snap are 24-year-old Fraizer and Wes (32), taking time out for Cheltenham from their careers at the Stadium of Light. Both, like John are ex-Manchester United of course. “I’m still on a high from been capped for England against Holland and I’ve just become a daddy,” Fraizer told me. Lovely guys who were lapping up the attention.
Ronan Keating’s brother Gary popped in for a while. He was heading to join Westlife’s Shane Filan who’s over enjoying Cheltenham for the very first time with his wife Gillian, as guests of the JP McManus family. I caught up with the Sligo star earlier yesterday after Alfie Sherrin, owned by JP, had just won The JLT handicap Steeple Chase. I was in shock, regardless of the price at 14/1. You see my tummy was still full from the lavish breakfast I had at trainer Jonjo O’Neill’s magnificent Jackdaws Castle on Tuesday morning. I was accompanied by Mrs Gill E Jones, a top lady, especially as she got me into my dream racing yard.
“I still hold the title of being the only Englishwoman to have owned and trained the winner of the Kerry National, Ace of Spies, that went on to win twice at Cheltenham. Such wonderful times,” Gill told me.
When I met Jonjo, the Corkman was exactly how I thought he’d be, a gentleman. And he put up Get Me Out of Here in the Coral Cup today as his best chance of the week. More to come on that!