The answers to the burning questions of who will or will not triumph at Cheltenham have finally been answered - what a week it was too. Sadly all did not emerge from their skirmishes unscathed. The avid race goer was reminded of the fallibility of their beloved equine warriors and that while ecstasy is the graciously greeted guest; agony becomes the unwelcome burglar breaking into the basement. People who find it hard to understand what the loss of any horse means to a yard nearly all need to have worked in one as an empty box home is always the worse result. Furthermore, the hardest decisions can be the kindest as the high spirited and very complex thoroughbred was born to run so its innate form is entirely unnatural. The final chapters of Ivor Herbert’s book Arkle: The Story Of A Champion is the realisation of the mortality of even the greatest. Thankfully, the injured human battlers will be ok in time but their die hard efforts are conspicuous by their – in some cases – long absence.
Bar the obvious and never overlooked losses, Cheltenham saw some very interesting and satisfying results. Sire De Grugy would be a highlight as this now triple grade one winner rubbished any question of form around the course with a startling display. For one moment I thought the gallant Sizing Europe was going to roll back the years but the Gary Moore-trained champion proved all too much. Quevega was simply awesome yet again showing her terrier like tenacity once hitting that hill and the last day could scarcely be believed even if Nostradamus had predicted it. Sadly, a lot of it was based on the misfortune of others but the gracious Davy Russell had had his own bout of that last year when missing the ride on Sir Des Champs.
For Dason Court having a runner at the meeting was a highlight and while we did not figure we will live to fight another day. Foxcub has had a very good season and will now have a well deserved break. Otherwise, the changing ground is having a big effect on our runners as some of our soft ground horses simply cannot perform on it and the better ground horses aren’t quite ready yet. Otherwise one enjoys the good weather we are having while trying to find a way to one day become more a part of that magic and infectious Festival atmosphere.