David Ord reflects on all the drama of the 2007 Cheltenham Festival taking in the Evesham Premier Inn, Cheltenham Tigers Rugby Club and much more.
Cheltenham Festival racegoers are a hardy breed. Long before the Atkins or Keto Diets were even dreamed up – we were living them.
Four or five nights of full cooked breakfasts, red meat and battered fish washed down by Guinness, bitter, red wine, brandy or whiskey – a cider as a palate cleanser with the morning fry-up – it took a toll.
The results would have had even Gillian McKeith running for cover and the sorry figures cut by racegoers when they returned home are said to have inspired the writers of The Walking Dead.
Did we get sympathy? No. We weren’t even allowed to watch the Midlands National on the Saturday afternoon.
In 2007 my best friend was enjoying the Festival of Festivals. A dedicated follower of the Alan King team, he was already flush following the victories of My Way De Solzen (Arkle) and Voy Por Ustedes (Champion Chase) and now waiting on Katchit in the Triumph for the pay day of all pay days.
But that Friday morning – as he clambered out of the single bed in our twin room in the resplendent Evesham Premier Inn – he sunk back onto the mattress, clutching his head in his hands. ‘No Mas, No Mas’ he cried.
So instead of heading to Prestbury Park to witness his finest hour, the beleaguered and troubled traveller got no further than the bar of the Cheltenham Tigers Rugby Club, a mere Spanish stones throw from the action itself and where the car for the journey home was safely parked.
There he sat on the table closest to the toilets waiting for the action to appear on the TV, sipping a diet coke and vowing never again.
45 minutes later Katchit delivered, the diet coke replaced by a pint of Hook Norton. The amazing restorative powers of a Cheltenham winner shone through, although not the medicine McKeith would have prescribed.
When I grumpily marched up the hill from the press room to take my place in the drivers’ seat for the trek back to Yorkshire, the three passengers were already in the silver VW Golf and fast asleep.
They stayed in that state all the way home, leaving me with a radio stuck on…