Sarah O’Flaherty is Paddy Power’s roving, raving, ranting reporter at Cheltenham. Watch out for her, or she’ll stick a camera in your face. As Zara Phillips found out.
The party of all parties was held at the infamous Beehive Club last night as the Punchestown Race committee held its annual bash. Ireland and Leicester City defender Sean St Ledger was in great form, so much so that he couldn’t buy the drinks quick enough for the delighted hangers-on.
Also there was my old friend from Donegal, Shay Given, the Ireland and Aston Villa goalkeeper. He’s a gorgeous guy who was happy to pose for pictures and chat to fellow racegoers. He even braved the Guinness tent, where the tune of The Rare Ole Times was blasted out by the band.
Personally, after hearing it for the third time within the hour, it was enough, but the crowd lapped it up as the drink flowed. If you can dance with a burger in one hand, pint in the other and still manage to keep your leprechaun hat on this is the spot for you. I spotted telly favourite Carol Vorderman and newly-single Michelle Mone of Ultimo lingerie knocking back the fizz from the safety of their corporate box.
King of Chavs Jeremy Kyle couldn’t stop smiling for some reason, maybe he had that big tip, never eat yellow snow! My new best friend is Royalty’s Zara Phillips. She asked me who was winning in the rivalry stakes between Britain and Ireland so I told her the Irish, but we would give her a chance at some stage over the next couple of days.
(PS: Britain well ahead).
Thankfully the sun shone down on us for Ladies Day yesterday and as the sun set, Barry Geraghty emerged from the weighing room to talk to me. “You come here dreaming of winning rides like these, Simonsig is a future superstar,” he said. “Sizing Europe put it up to Finian’s Rainbow, he made it hard work, but thankfully Finian came out on top.”
So what’s the big tip for today then, Barry? “I’ve a couple of good chances, Riverside Theatre and Oscar Whiskey would be the main ones but go with an each-way bet on Jimmy Nesbitt’s Riverside Theatre,” he said. “On Friday, Burton Port has a good chance but Long Run will be hard to beat.”
Ruby Walsh was thrilled with Quevega’s win on Tuesday but drew a blank yesterday. But the Kildare man is more optimistic of a better sow today. “I’m hopeful, two days down, two to go,” he told me. “I’m riding Cristal Bonus in the first and I’m looking forward to the World Hurdle with Big Buck’s. Tomorrow, I’m on Kauto Star but Long Run will be hard to beat.”
AP McCoy has not had a winner yet but he’s positive that Albertas Run will give him a good ride today. Or the other way around. As for Friday, the McCoy, McManus and O’Neill trio will be hoping Synchronised will do the trick in The Gold Cup. “Synchronised has a good chance but Long Run will be difficult to beat,” AP said.
I’m always surprised how tall AP is, you’d never think he was a jockey.
So who will get me buzzing today?
1.30 Willie Mullins’ Sir Des Champs but I’m wary of Peddlers Cross.
2.05 Sonofvic e/w but I’ve a real soft spot for Buena Vista.
2.40 Somersby e/w but keep an eye on Nobel Prince too.
3.20 Thousand Stars e/w, Voler La Ledette e/w but Big Buck’s going for a historic fourth win in the race.
4.40 Sunnyhillboy my £5 is definitely on him.
I get asked for tips constantly over here, and I’ve never claimed to be an expert. I just love horses and the chance to meet great, interesting people. A real tip? Clothes Line. Put your shirt on it!