Cheltenham yesterday felt like being at school after the end of term. It was deserted — apart from officious security guards and a slightly hysterical press room, jam-packed with hacks trying to find a “different angle” on the abandonment.
After the initial slight thrill that always accompanies a drama, it was a thoroughly depressing day. No racing, and because we all had to write some sort of a story about it, not much chance to do anything else.
What I really should have done, of course, is go hunting. My horse is an hour away, the Heythrop were meeting an hour the other way, the hunting kit is in the car, ready to go home for the summer… Marcus Armytage and I both thought it would have been the perfect solution, but I don’t think my mother would have thrilled if I’d rung at 9am and asked her to meet me at the meet.
What did the jockeys do? H&H’s hero, Robert Thornton, jetted off to Huntingdon and rode a brace of winners. McCoy went for one ride, but finishing third won’t have improved his gloom. Noel Meade probably handcuffed Paul Carberry to the kitchen table — God knows what mischief he would have got up to. I should have offered him the day’s hunting — the new horse would have either died of shock, or been worth £10,000 grand more.
But we’re now standing like greyhounds in the slips, straining upon the start. Today definitely has Agincourt-like similarities — 10 races, 10 winners, 100 stories. It’ll be a relentless gallop through the best national hunt racing has to offer. Bring it on.