H&H racing editor meets Jilly Cooper at Cheltenham Festival

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  • Forget the racing. Something much more exciting happened to me today — I met Jilly Cooper. From the time my mother caught me reading Riders under the bedclothes aged 12 to the fact that, before last year, everything I knew about polo came from Polo, she’s been my heroine. She’s researching her next book, set in the racing world, and when she heard I was the racing editor at H&H, she said: “We must meet…” How cool?

    Like me, she had backed Voy Por Ustedes to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase, but neither of us — or the other 55,000 people here at Cheltenham — could believe how amazingly easy Master Minded found it, hardly breaking sweat on his way to victory. He’s not really five until next month — it will be very interesting to see if he can keep this up and become the Golden Miller of our time. Let’s hope so.

    Even though it’s raining quite hard, my feet are soaked and my fur hat looks as though the terrier’s been at it, this is an incredible day. Inglis Drever must have a claim to be the best-loved jumps horse in training, and the cheer he got as he came into the winner’s enclosure after his third World Hurdle win was truly affectionate.

    Thinking of cheering, despite all the champions, no one gets a bigger roar than McCoy, whatever he wins. The crowd love him, despite his skeletal grimace when it’s going wrong. In fact, they love him for it — the pain he feels from not winning just proves how much he cares. They trust him — he’s always throwing every cell into it, and know how much he hates to let them down.

    It’s 5pm, it’s getting dark, and the bumper, the last race of the day, is still 50min away. How are we going to tell who wins? Perhaps the jocks should wear those miners’ lamps on their helmets.

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