As the days of lock-down continue, another highlight in the sporting calendar comes and goes.
By Neil O’Sullivan
In normal times we would have seen a flurry of activity between the door of Tom McCarthy’s Bar and Boylesports but this year racing fans swapped their race day outfits and beverages for home comforts and a shot at the €750 prize fund offered by Castleisland AFC.
Day One was to set the scene for both the festival and the fantasy competition.
Blackmore and Honeysuckle
It was a day of Irish domination with the great Blackmore and Honeysuckle combination making history coming up the Cheltenham Hill, a scene that would have brought quite the roar to a packed Cheltenham.
One man who would have matched that roar is Castleisland’s John Culloty.
John rounded off a sensational first day of racing by selecting 80/1 winner Jeff Kidder which shot him to the top of the leader board after day one.
An Insurmountable Lead
A good start for John, but being a Man United fan who saw his team top in January, he was all too aware that an early lead doesn’t always work out.
Day Two had one of the ‘people’s favourite’ Tiger Roll skipping around the Glenfarclas Chase, coming home 18 lengths in front of the competition.
Cheltenham was beginning to take shape with the Irish firing in winners at all angles, building an insurmountable lead that the English would not be able to bridge.
Closing the Gap
However, the opposite was the case in the Fantasy Cheltenham competition as the field began to close the gap and we were in for an exciting final two days.
On to day three and the story was following a similar narrative with Blackmore bagging the featured Ryanair Chase on Allaho and Culloty’s lead being closed in on but not quite there yet.
By the end of the day about 20 points separated first and second but the field were beginning to bunch up in behind and we were in for a grand stand finish.
Gold Cup Bagged
Day four was all about King Henry. Minella Indo’s fine performance bagged him the Gold Cup and a whopping £625,000 in prize money.
The victory meant Henry De Bromhead had become the first trainer to win the Champion’s Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup at a single festival. In terms of the Cheltenham competition, Culloty’s lead was really beginning to dwindle.
Week’s Top Tipster
It all came down to the last race, with more than five players needing one winner to finish top of the competition.
In the end Galopin Des Champs took the spoils in the last race meaning John Culloty would be crowned the week’s top tipster on a total of 90.25 points, closely followed by Anne Riordan on 84.58 and Martin Hewitt on 80.75.
Looking at Aintree
The competition provided everyone with a great distraction for the week and gave contestants a real interest for the week.
In the end it was all a bit of fun and it raised some important funds for Castleisland AFC.
We would like to thank everyone that supported the fundraiser and if the interest is there we may look at doing something similar for the upcoming Aintree festival.
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