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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March, 2004, 15:35 GMT
Wednesday's Cheltenham diary
By Sophie Brown
BBC Sport at Cheltenham

Trainer Nicky Henderson
Nicky Henderson was spared an awkward scene at breakfast
There was disappointment for trainers Nicky Henderson and Jessica Harrington in Tuesday's Arkle Chase when Colca Canyon and Caracciola both failed to finish in the frame.

But perhaps it was a victory for diplomacy as the Irish-based Harrington and her husband stay with the Hendersons for Cheltenham every year.

The families are great friends but trainers are a competitive breed and you never know - things could have been a bit frosty over breakfast this morning if one horse had pipped the other by a short head.

Bookmakers never miss a trick in their attempts to lure punters to part with their hard-earned.

There have been several special bets to tie in with St Patrick's Day, such as the number of Irish-trained winners, while today's Budget also figures in some of bookmaker William Hill's more inventive markets.

Punters were able to wager on whether Chancellor Gordon Brown would still be talking about the economy when the first race went off - or you could get 12-1 on him actually mentioning the Festival in his speech.

Woman heard shouting into a mobile phone on Tuesday: "The Champion Hurdle? It was won by - what was it called - oh, yes, Hardly Useless."

Hardy Eustace
The hardly useless Hardy Eustace
She actually wasn't far wrong as Hardy Eustace lived up to his billing with a five-length win that was indeed hardly useless but perhaps more accurately absolutely brilliant.

The horse in question, incidentally, was named after a long-deceased landowner in County Carlow.

Champion trainer Martin Pipe said last week that he was lacking in equine ammunition at this year's Festival and that he would be happy with one winner.

His two successes on the first day mean he has already surpassed that aim - and also ensured that he kept up his impressive record of having had at least one winner at every Festival since 1989.

Many people say racing is going to the dogs but on Tuesday the dogs went to the racing.

The second Festival Greyhound Stakes took place after racing with the spoils going to the dog from trap six, Shades of Johnny.

There was a healthy crowd who stayed to watch the event which was put on partly to stagger the crush of racegoers leaving the course after the last race.

Most agreed it was entertaining fare but when they were still crawling out of the car park nearly two hours later, they must have wondered about its effectiveness as a traffic-controlling measure.

Tuesday's Cheltenham diary
16 Mar 04  |  Horse Racing

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