Jamie O’Neill is an aspiring, young sports journalist from Castleisland. Having studied in Dublin Business School he qualified with a Diploma in Sports Journalism.
“Sport is my passion and anything across the board I’ll have an opinion on. Horse Racing is the one I have the real love for. It’s part of the Irish heritage for many a year now and hopefully it will be for years to come,” said Jamie by way of introduction to a piece he has written on the famed Cheltenham festival which begins today.
It’s the meeting that racing fans take holidays around. The late Liam Courtney from Barrack Street once found himself close enough to the Queen Mother to reach out and shake hands with her. He did just that. “How are you Maam,” Liam enquired and he got one of those beaming smiles from the late and wonderful, old lady. And Pats Broderick is a witness to the momentous event. It’s that kind of meeting. Anyway, here is Jamie’s preview of the greatest race meeting on earth.
MY CHELTENHAM 2014 PREVIEW – By: Jamie O’Neill
It’s that time of the year again folks. Every man, woman and child will be trying their best to make a few quid at the world’s best Horse Racing Festival in the famous Prestbury Park situated in the Cotswolds.
It’s the week that no matter where you are, from being in a bar, bookies, grocery store or even a funeral home, someone will whisper quietly in your ear “any winners?.” It brings a buzz like when the Grand National is on – but this lasts for four days of sheer excitement, ups and downs and lots of whooping and hollering. It’s the one week where everyone likes a punt and if you don’t have a bet you’re given that look like you didn’t have Turkey and Ham for the Christmas dinner.
It begins on this very Tuesday – which could be one to remember for the Irish and Willie Mullins who has three if not four leading contenders. Mullins is having a fantastic year but this is the week that he prepares everything for. The big race on Tuesday is the Champion Hurdle and many believe it could be the most exciting Hurdle for years to come with so many class horses.
Hurricane Fly, the reigning champ is joint favourite with The New One – and from what his trainer said is “flying at home”, Our Conor’s trainer was wishing that Cheltenham could come quicker as his horse is after improving since its last run where he ran home in second place against The Fly. JP McManus also has three horses in the race all with a chance but My Tent Or Yours would be the main hope with the other two presumably being involved in tactics throughout the race.
“Today (Tuesday) still promises to be one of the most exciting days racing to be seen. So make sure that you manage to watch the Champion Hurdle. It’s one that will go down in history whatever the result.”
Quevega, another of Mullins horses, is trying to create her own bit of history by beating Golden Miller’s , record of five successive victories at the track. The mare is odds on to do so and will be a race to watch rather than having a punt on. Saying this, it’s always nice to witness a wee bit of history.
Briar Hill, a surprise winner of the Champion Bumper last year, is a BANKER of the meeting for many on Friday in the Albert Bartlett. So to make it a good St. Patrick’s weekend throw a few euro on this fella at 9/4. This wouldn’t be a great price for many so I’d like to advise people to do a treble with Bobs Worth at (7/4) in The Gold Cup. Quevega at (8/11) on Tuesday and Briar Hill on the Friday all three work out at tasty odds of 14/1.
Bryan Cooper, son of trainer Tommy Cooper from Farmers Bridge in Tralee will have a nice few mounts for his new employers, Gigginstown Stud which is owned by Michael O’Leary also of Ryanair. The one horse who will go very close for Bryan will be First Lieutenant in the line-up for the Ryanair Chase – and it’s just a coincidence it’s sponsored by them – or is it ? Bryan shone last year at the festival and emerged as the new one to watch. This year there will be more pressure on him.
Race of the Festival
The race of the festival comes on Friday, Gold Cup day. Bobs Worth is the favourite here and is trying to win for the second time in a row which would be a massive achievement.
The Philip Fenton trained Last Instalment has been cleared by the British Horse Racing Authority to run at the festival and is Ireland’s leading hope. He won impressively lately and, once fit and ready, will go close and possibly get past the post first.
Today (Tuesday) still promises to be one of the most exciting days racing to be seen. So make sure that you manage to watch the Champion Hurdle. It’s one that will go down in history whatever the result. Take a sneaky break from work and be ready to watch a special race at 3.20. Hopefully the winner will be an Irish one. BANKER OF THE MEETING: BRIAR HILL ON FRIDAY.