Monday 11 December 2017

Cheltenham 2015: Michael O'Leary a winner as two race home

Owner Michael O'Leary and wife Anita Farrell celebrate with winning horse Don Poli
Owner Michael O'Leary and wife Anita Farrell celebrate with winning horse Don Poli

Michael O’Leary may lay claim to operating the world’s most successful airline but when it comes to national hunt racing he knows his place.

At Cheltenham yesterday, the Ryanair chief recorded his first victories of this year’s festival but admits he is well behind the field when it comes to some of the industry’s jet-setting owners and trainers.

It was the day the host country fought back following Irish domination on the opening day, but O’Leary managed to get two winners over the line.

“It’s such a relief to get a winner here. Willie (Mullins) gets three or four on the first day. Rich Ricci gets his winner on the first day, JP McManus gets his winner on the first day. I know my position and that is to wait my turn.

“That’s the pecking order and then the likes of me sitting here like some orphan waiting my turn,” he said.

Nevertheless, O’Leary was celebrating late last night in the Cotswolds after two entries from Gigginstown Stud – Don Poli and Rivage D’Or – romped home. All that was missing as each passed the winning post was the trumpeting Ryanair fanfare.

“Winners in Cheltenham are so hard to come by that you have to enjoy them because they are rare. I will have a copious amount of alcohol this evening consisting of a strange mixture of beer and champagne but we will enjoy it,” he said.

Dodging Bullets saved bookmakers in the Queen Mother Champion Chase when the favourites were beaten.

“We needed to hit back hard after the opening day melt down,” David Williams of Ladbrokes said.


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