POSTED Mar 16, 2011
    A few years ago, I saw a chalkboard sign outside a pub in Cheltenham:



    Scotland vs France


    Arsenal vs AC Milan

    Horse Racing

    England vs Ireland

    The England vs Ireland of course was referring to the Cheltenham festival. I've heard it estimated that at least 15,000 Irish people show up for the Festival each year and I believe it -- check out the scene in Guinness Village if you don't believe me. One of the many special things about this meet is that while for most of the year, Irish horses stay in Ireland and English horses stay in England, here they come together and compete against each other. There are still many more English horses than Irish ones, but often the race favorites come from across the way and that fosters a real sense of competition. And while betting winners takes precedence over everything here but the pureness of the sport itself, there is definitely a bit of nationalistic pride, especially on the Irish side, when one of their team gets unsaddled in the winner's enclosure.

    Let me tell you: there was plenty of that pride on course today, when Irish based runners took the first six races of the day. The easy line was that St. Patrick's Day came a day early. But it was really more than that -- because St. Patrick's Day comes once a year. Irish horses winning a remarkable six pack in a row at Cheltenham has never happened before and who knows when it will happen again. The biggest Irish favorite of the day, Big Zeb, did not go in. But that did little to dampen the mood. And the party is sure to continue through the night and well into tomorrow.

    I'll post some more thoughts in this space tomorrow. And if you haven't signed up for my Twitter feed yet (@loomsboldly), you might consider doing so. I tipped up FIRST LIEUTENANT, who paid $16, and CARLITO BRIGANTE, who paid a remarkable $66.20 on twinspires, via tweet today. I'll do my best to suss out a few more winners tomorrow.
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