Green tinge for Irish at Cheltenham but only one win

If there is one thing worse than having to go through St Patrick’s Day and all its tacky manifestations every year, it is surely having to do it twice.

David Gill, Declan Corbett and James Corbett from Castlebar, Co Mayo enjoying Paddy's Day at Cheltenham

The Cheltenham Festival hasn’t overlapped with Ireland’s national holiday since 2011, but organisers at the Prestbury Park course haven’t let that stop them from designating day three as “St Patrick’s Thursday” this past three years.

There were, therefore, premature smatterings of sickly green garbs to be found amidst the usual, well, sickly tweed threads that normally passes for fashion when it comes to a day out at the nags.

Jess Lee and Susan Mantle from Ulster

Giant Guinness hats, shamrock antennae, awful green trousers and putrid blazers were all ticked off a list that would give Joan Rovers and her Fashion Police enough material for a year.

That said, there was less of the “Oirish” shtick than in the past. Nobody was selling actual pieces of shamrock at the front gates and the only Tricolour spotted was the one jockey Robbie McNamara had cradled on his lap shortly before tea-time.

The leading Irish amateur pilot was sitting aboard Spring Heeled at the time as it made its way into the winners’ enclosure on the back of victory in the day’s last race, the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.

Anne and Paddy Smith from Drogheda

Of the 20 Irish-trained horses that took part yesterday, Spring Heeled was the one winner for the raiders, although what actually constitutes an “Irish” winner is something that could do with some explanation.

Basically, it has to be trained in Ireland to be an “Irish” horse.

Seems fair, right? Well… Take yesterday and the biggest race of the day. The Ladbrokes World Hurdle. The winner, More of That, was bred in Ireland and is owned by JP McManus.

Margaret Connolly from Mullingar

It was guided round by Meath’s Barry Geraghty and trained by Cork’s Jonjo O’Neill.

But, O’Neill is based in England so More of That was an English winner.

Confused? Don’t worry, just one more day to go.


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