Cheltenham Diary: Westwood's pain is Motty's pleasure as Savage is silenced
Sometimes it doesn't pay to be a multimillionaire. Take Lee Westwood yesterday. The world's second-best golfer found his day ruined by the fog and couldn't travel down from Worksop.
Westwood, who returned from three weeks playing in America on Monday and was eagerly awaiting his trip to Cheltenham, had planned to arrive by helicopter but was grounded and was forced to watch the action on the TV instead.
"Poxy English weather," said the 37-year-old, who is one of the few top professional not to have relocated to the US. "It's led me to Google 'homes for sale in Florida'."
Chubby Chandler, his manager, did make it and was might glad he did, too, backing Sizing Europe at 10-1 and, straight afterwards, Carlito Brigante at 16-1. "Don't worry, Lee had a few winners as well," reported Chandler. And, from his sofa, Westwood also enjoyed some Twitter banter with Robbie Savage.
The Derby captain cum Radio Five Live big-mouth attended with the rest of his team on Tuesday and backed six out of the seven winners. Which cheered up everyone no end. Yesterday, Savage did not find the punting quite so easy – oh, the shame – and had to bow to the betting excellence of his sometime broadcast colleague John Motson.
The legendary commentator was sitting in the Boyle Sports box yesterday almost looking embarrassed when his eighth winner out of nine races romped in. Three-quarters of an hour later he expressed himself "rather relieved" when finally backing another loser. "I think they were going to get me on the radio to crow about my run and wind-up Savage," said Motty. "That's not my style."
Birley bereft after Lord Gale is blown away
Lucy Birley is better known as the ex-wife of Bryan Ferry, the mother of the pro fox-hunting demonstrator Otis Ferry, and the model who appeared on the cover of the Roxy Music album, Avalon.
Yet in the last race yesterday, she was nothing more than the proud owner of Lord Gale. Birley, who graced the catwalks as Lucy Helmore and who has since married Robin Birley revealed: "It has always been my dream to have a Cheltenham runner. I haven't eaten or slept for three days."
Alas, her five-year-old was unplaced in the bumper. But she was in good company. Bygones In Brid was another also-ran. He happens to be owned by the Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp. Poor 'Arry. He was only after a place in the first four.
Mouse's dry humour
Perhaps Ireland's (almost) complete domination was best expressed in a visual sense when Mouse Morris, the trainer of RSA Chase winner First Lieutenant, stepped up to receive the trophy and took what is best described as a comedy tumble. Think Mariah Carey and that acceptance speech. Only don't. Because Morris claimed: "Not a drink has been taken all day." If true, he was in an Irish minority. Of one.
Dickinson hopes for Japanese success
Michael Dickinson, the Yorkshireman who famously trained the first five home in the 1983 Gold Cup, was an infrequent visitor to the Festival after emigrating to the US in the mid-1980s. Recently, however, he has returned to the scene of his, or any other trainers', greatest glory on almost an annual basis. He just may be here this time to help promote the Dubai World Cup.
After retiring from his Maryland training base four years ago, Dickinson developed the artificial racing surface Tapeta. Last year, Meydan, the largest racecourse in the world, opened using Tapeta (Latin for carpet) and next week, for the second year, the world's richest race will be taking place at Meydan.
Here yesterday, Dickinson declared the runner he would love to see win and, on a day of supposed rampant feel-good for Ireland, his comments seemed particularly appropriate.
"The Japanese have a horse running called Transcend," said Dickinson. "I can't imagine what that nation is going through at the moment and, of course, it wouldn't mean much but even the smallest crumb would be welcome."
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