Cold. That sums up Cheltenham today. Cold and foggy, to be precise. The sun that burned its way through the gloom yesterday never materialised, or just didn’t try hard enough. I spent most of my time clutching my coat round me and trying to turn the pages of my racecard with gloves on.
But Big Buck’s was awesome. Considering the horse is a total nutter who box walks for Britain and has to be fed first in the yard otherwise he gets really upset, he looked like a seaside donkey today. He plodded round the parade ring – “Yeah yeah, Cheltenham again, don’t worry, it’s in the bag, mate” – serenely won his race, and must be nearly tucked up in his bed at Paul Nicholls’ by now.
The interesting thing is how close the mare Voler La Vedette got to him today. We know Quevega, who won her fourth David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle on Tuesday, is way better than Voler La Vedette. So would Quevega have beaten Big Buck’s? The chances are we will never know. Ruby Walsh rides them both and must be desperate to keep them apart – and Willie Mullins seems happy to take the guaranteed prize-money in the mares’ race, rather than risk a defeat for her. But you’ve got to think she could be the one to topple the champ, if she ever got a chance.
Highest heels: Zara Phillips and Chanelle McCoy. Genuine six-inchers. Why don’t they get stuck in the mud, when I do in a modest three inches?
Biggest smile: Tina Cook after winning the charity race. She loved punching the air when coming into the winner’s enclosure, as well. She joins the podium of H&H columnists/writers to have ridden a Cheltenham winner (Choc Thornton, Marcus Armytage… pretty sure Pammy Hutton hasn’t. Or Stuart Hollings.)
Best clothes: Camilla and Sarah Henderson, Nicky’s daughters.
Best rumour: that one of Nicky Henderson’s stable lads has won a million quid backing his boss’s horses. No idea whether it’s true or not, but I’m not sure he’ll be mucking out in the morning if it is.