CHELTENHAM 2024

AUTHOR: William Kedjanyi

LOOK SHARPE: Cheltenham Festival Warm-Down

Sports betting PR legend GRAHAM SHARPE brings you his Cheltenham Festival rundown…

THE DUST has been settling on the Cheltenham Festival now that this year’s exciting array of action is over.

We all know who won the big races, who the leading jockeys, trainers and owners were.

But here’s a rundown of a few Festival facts you may have missed by being caught up in the excitement of what was taking place on the turf.

For example, did you notice that an artist called Graham Short managed to engrave the names of all the previous Cheltenham Gold Cup winners onto the head of a horseshoe nail to mark the 100th anniversary of the great race?

It took the 77-year-old some 400 hours of work to scratch the names of the 81 winners from 1924 until last year on the nail’s surface, which measures an eighth of an inch in width.

He created his mini masterpiece for former bookie, Bryan Morris, 62, who reckons it is now worth £100,000.

Bryan also revealed he had begun the process a year earlier, only to realise he hadn’t left enough space to include the name of 2023 winner, Galopin Des Champ, so had to start all over again.

And in an incident which will be welcomed by many, some impatient racegoers – male, of course – received a wee unexpected surprise when they decided to relieve themselves against certain walls in Cheltenham en route to or from the races – local council officials had arranged to have buildings coated in water-repellent paint, which when urinated against, caused the liquid to rebound towards the person aiming it in that direction. ‘People who wee in public get wet trousers’ declared Councillor Max Wilkinson.

The winner of a pre- Cheltenham punting competition, 28-year-old Liverpool lass, Faye Parry, won a free £20 bet, despite admitting she had no idea what the word ‘stake’ meant in a betting context.

However, she knew how to find winners, and landed £3095.59 as she came up with five of them with her free £20 stake money prize. An Everton supporter, she apparently hoped to use some of her winnings to buy a meeting with their striker, Dominic Calvert-Lewin!

After his horse, Shakem Up’Arry won at 8/1 on Thursday, the second former football manager to enjoy a winner as an owner (Sir Alex Ferguson had been co-owner of two winners on the same day), Harry Redknapp, revealed that his love of a bet originally came from his grandmother, who used to be involved in illegal street betting back in the day and ‘got herself locked up’ as a result.

You may, though, have been fortunate enough to avoid seeing the bizarre photograph of hefty England rugby prop, Joe Marler clad in jockey silks, along with half a dozen mates and a plastic, blow-up horse, which adorned one of the sports pages of the Daily Mail on the Thursday of the Cheltenham Festival, as Joe, who as a youngster apparently ‘used to clean out my mate’s stables’, explained that: ‘I have never been to the Cheltenham races because it always clashes with the Six Nations’. Of the jockey silks, he claimed: ‘We’ve worn the jockey outfits while we watch the racing’, before admitting: ‘I haven’t had much luck with my bets so far’.

Well, me neither, Joe! But I did take part in a Cheltenham Festival tipping competition, taking on four very good friends. We had to stake a fantasy £100 per day on selections. After the four days, the three male contestants had lost a total of £883, while the two ladies were a total of £580.94 ahead of the game.

Fortunately, we were playing for a modest tenner a head to be handed to the winner – that was Julie – so that although we lost all credibility as punters we at least didn’t have to back every one of our selections with real money. Perhaps, though, I should have paid more attention to a sensational pre-meeting ‘study’ which ‘showed’ that ‘jockeys with stars on their silks are most likely to find success at the Festival.’

No, I could not be remotely bothered to check whether that was the case, and nor was I shocked by the study’s conclusion that ‘if predictions were a dead cert the sport would have been over years ago.’

You don’t say………!

GRAHAM SHARPE


Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.


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