Enda McEvoy: A winning week — but only just

Busy morning. One of the Marys from yesterday is in touch to insist she does not ‘importune’ dinner invitations and demands a retraction.
Enda McEvoy: A winning week — but only just

An east Cork man who claims to have gone through Thursday’s card - yes, all seven winners - suggests Blue Hell in the second race.

And a kindly passing reader texts to say I “need help” (I assume he means in betting terms rather than psychological terms) and offers a trio of Great Field, Cue Card and The Saint James.

Instantly there’s a problem with Cue Card. I already fancy, and have long fancied, Don Poli for the Gold Cup.

That’s not to say I’m a fan of Don Poli. I’m not. I’m more an unwilling admirer because watching Don Poli is hard going indeed.

In fact, it’s excruciating. He doesn’t front-run. He doesn’t throw exhilarating leaps. He just plods on. And on. And on.

It’s the visual equivalent of listening to a two-hour Joan Burton speech.

But there it is. I backed Djakadam in the Gold Cup last year so I’ve done my bit for him, and Don Cossack - on the formbook the best horse in the race - is too tight for the common or garden punter.

Don Poli it must remain, then. In memory of David Bowie, not that I was a massive fan, I can’t resist a couple of bob each way on Let’s Dance in the opener.

She runs well but finishes fourth, out of a place. It is Joseph O’Brien’s first Cheltenham winner.

We can all safely agree it won’t be his last.

In the County Hurdle I’ve had murmurings about Henry Higgins as well as Blue Hell and Great Field.

In the event Great Field runs too freely early on and neither of the others is sighted.

WP Mullins saddles no fewer than seven runners in the Albert Bartlett. He is clearly unable to form an opinion.

Maybe it goes back to the old saw about how if Vincent O’Brien reckoned he had four potential Derby winners in his yard, then really he had none.

Which or whether, or even Wither or Which, as Willie is unable to form an opinion I’ll be damned if I’m going to try, so I happily sit out the race.

To the Gold Cup. The formbook is correct. Don Cossack wins and wins well.

Djakadam is a valiant second. And third, thanks to the fall of Cue Card three out, is Don Poli, almost tailed off early on but plugging away to the bitter end as ever.

I feel like I deserve my each-way money simply for having had to endure watching him grind his way around. He is the dour corner-back of the three-mile chasing division.

On to the Foxhunters.

It features a magnificent lady rider and she proves as much, scrubbing away at a nag who’s labouring as they round the home turn to get up for an improbable-looking victory. Her name is Victoria Pen... Oh sorry, it’s actually Nina Carberry.

That was mean of her, wasn’t it? The spoilsport.

Credit where it’s due. Victoria Pendleton rides a fine race, threading her way carefully through the field on Pacha Du Polder to finish fifth.

It is a splendid achievement on her part. This doesn’t mean the Pendleton project was anything less than a bookmaker-sponsored gimmick. A pity the genius of Nina will be relegated to the footnotes.

I’ve done a double comprising On The Fringe and Squouateur. (And I thought Quantitativeeasing was a hard one to type?)

Nina has done her bit, and Squo - sorry, I refuse to type it out again - is trained by the Gold Cup-winning trainer. Ample grounds for optimism therein, but sadly the second leg of the double is unable to get in a blow and trails in seventh.

Even sadder, I fire my last bullet - a tenner each-way at 14/1 - on The Saint James, as per advice, solely because I’ll be scalded if he wins and I’m not on.

Not a hugely logical foundation for having a bet but there you go.

As it happens I wouldn’t have been scalded. The Saint James does not win. The Saint James does not finish.

And that’s that. I finish ahead for the meeting, albeit only just. Tuesday was a good day; it’s been downhill ever since.

And if the Mary who doesn’t - repeat, DOES NOT - importune dinner invitations is reading right now, the good news is that we’re still on for tonight.

The bad news? No champagne, no starters and we’ll be splitting the dessert. Can’t say you weren’t warned. Blame The Saint James and a few others.

Total after Day Four: €47.34

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox