Failing that I’ll be really scientific and go by names. Oooh, how about Benatar in the opener? Cheltenham is, after all, a battlefield. And hey, in the second race there’s been money for Delta Work, cut from 14/1 to 10/1. Someone knows something, very possibly Gordon Elliott or Davy Russell or Michael O’Leary. A nod being as good as a wink to a wounded man, that’ll do me.
Also, as all is fair in love, war and gambling I’m going to cheat a little, or at any rate to push the envelope. Last night my punters’ WhatsApp group was alerted to the fact that Nico De Boinville, fresh from his Altior exploits, was heading to Towcester today to ride one horse for Nicky Henderson. Another nod and a wink. Desperate to replenish the tank I got on With Discretion there and then: €25 at 13/8. Yes, it’s Towcester. No, it’s not Cheltenham. But needs must.
While Benatar doesn’t win and never threatens to do so he performs respectably to finish third. A tiny profit. It staunches the bleeding.
Next up is the Pertemps and from a long way out it looks as Glenloe will saunter home. Barry Geraghty is sitting with a double handful and halfway up the run-in has yet to set him alight. But he makes a mistake at the last and there – oh yes - is Delta Work. An epic finish follows. Delta Work hangs on by a nose. Literally.
Cue an interesting TV exchange. Matt Chapman – big bumptious noisy guy, clearly chosen by the producers to fill the McCririck role – criticises Geraghty. AP McCoy pounces even quicker than Delta Work did. “When you get beat you’re always wrong. Barry Geraghty did the right thing.” He then mutters the words “that clown”. He is not talking about Geraghty.
Davy Russell may not quite be on a par with Our Lord, but yesterday’s cup of vinegar has been transubstantiated into wine and I find myself humming ‘We Belong Together’. I note with further satisfaction that Delta Work was backed into 6/1 after I’d taken 10s. Clearly I am one of those people who “gets up early”. Leo Varadkar would doubtless applaud my industriousness.
Because I had a televised winner it emerges that I have a free bet on the Ryanair. Only a fiver, which rules out Un De Sceaux, so — given that Gigginstown are on song — Balko Des Flos it has to be. Davy gives him a beautifully patient ride, burns off Un De Sceaux around the home turn and wins at 8/1. My cup of wine is now brimful of champagne, or at any rate of reasonably expensive cava. I did Davy an injustice. He clearlyon a par with Our Lord.
Supasandae is touched off by Penhill in the Stayers Hurdle, Willie Mullins again proving that he’s a good man for a nice-priced winner at the festival — if only one can identify the winner, that is. Now over to Towcester for news of the 3.55. Ah yes, With Discretion has obliged, and at 10/11 too. Thanks to that estimable fellow Peter McNamara for the Eriksen-like assist last night. (He’ll appreciate the simile.) Good job I stayed up late. It’s a lot more fun than getting up early.
Time for some fresh air and coffee and a ramble into the bookies’. (This time, being the anti-Stan Bowles that I am, I manage to make it past the pub two doors away.) Two chaps are deep in conversation. “They’re both geniuses,” one declares, to the agreement of the other. I can’t decide whether he’s talking about WP and Elliott or Mourinho and Eddie Jones.
Forgot to say I’d done a short-odds treble earlier involving With Discretion and Laurina, but the latter’s cakewalk in the mares’ race does not move me because Un De Sceaux’s defeat has scuppered it. With winnings to play up and remembering the plunge on Delta Work, I stick a couple of quid on Aubusson (was 25s, now 12s) in the last. It doesn’t happen. No matter. If Cheltenham is a battlefield I’m winning the war.