CHELTENHAM fever was gripping Limerick this week, with celebations following JP McManus’ win in the Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the festival.
The millionaire Martinstown man, sporting his I Love Limerick lapel pin, said in the aftermath of seeing the Jessica Harrington-trained Jezki and My Tent Or Yours complete a double in the race that his National Hunt season was “centred around the Champion Hurdle because I didn’t have any Gold Cup horses and I’m unlikely to win the Grand National”.
“The Champion Hurdle was all-important and full marks to everybody to have their horses looking in mint condition. They were all a credit.”
In Bobby Byrne’s pub this Wednesday, a busy lunch trade went side by side with the “Olympics of racing” showing on all screens. Robert Byrne said the pub was “keeping an eye” on events in Gloucestershire.
“We are of course, we always find that the week builds up as it goes on. We wouldn’t be a traditional racing house, but everybody gets into Cheltenham and gets stuck in behind it as the week goes on and the bigger races come on later in the week,” he said.
The Bobby’s proprietor said they were “shouting for JP”.
“Absolutely, any sort of an Irish trainer or jockey, everyone wants to see the Irish winning,” he said.
In nearby Charlie Malone’s, Kileely man Bobby Kickey said he “loved” the buzz of Cheltenham.
“It is unbelievable. I haven’t had any winners yet, which is a disaster, but it is early yet,” he laughed. “I look forward to the week, I love it, a week’s holidays. I will be shouting for the winner. We will get one.
“Tuesday was a disaster for the punters, the bookies cleaned up. It was sad to see Our Conor put down, it put a dampener on the race. I can’t wait for the rest of the week. I couldn’t even sleep the whole weekend waiting for it to start. I love it, it is great.”