Weblog: What do you mean the Wi-Fi doesn't work? The life of a Racing Post reporter
Even the paddock is worth watching here
WHO needs a ticket for the stands? You don't have to leave the parade ring to witness exciting, dramatic action at Cheltenham.
The sight which will probably last longest in the memory from today was the animated conversation taking place in the midst of the field for the RSA Chase between Robert Waley-Cohen, the Duchess of Cornwall and Mick Easterby.
Although it appeared during the course of their five-minute encounter that the racecourse chairman and the wife of the heir to the throne were getting something of a lecture from the legendary trainer, horsetrader and reputed owner of half of Yorkshire.
I asked him afterwards if he'd tried to sell the Duchess a horse. He said not - he's clearly lost his touch.
In almost exactly the same spot an hour or so later Camilla's niece Zara Phillips, no less, was inquiring earnestly of Dan Abraham as to whether he was the photographer kicked in a horribly frightening incident when Wishfull Thinking rolled into a group of cameramen by a fence, leaving a French member of the contingent with facial injuries.
Abraham has Mick Easterby's way with a swearword, which is to say he uses them heartily for full descriptive effect and can deliver them at the most unexpected moment.
He gave a poor radio producer heart failure as they chatted before his appearance on BBC 5Live to discuss the accident - but he was as sweetly spoken as a choirboy when on air.
Interviews are ten a penny in the parade ring before racing.
Anthony Kemp of Ladbrokes Radio collared me to ask for selections - sorry to anyone unwise enough to take take my tips seriously but Cotton Mill was going pretty well when he crashed out - and was so enthusiastic he even ended up probing a rival from WilliamHill Radio.
Another broadcaster with a wandering mic thought he had stumbled on to a story when Noel Meade told him in an interview that Realt Dubh would probably not run in tomorrow's Ryanair Chase.
"Oh, that is big news. Why?"
"Because he runs in the Champion Chase this afternoon."
It was another troubled start to the day.
Approaching the course through Swindon village involves negotiating a level crossing and sod's law dictates that it is always down when you are in a hurry.
But not for 25 minutes. While no fewer than six trains went by, each a different type from the one before. Train spotters' paradise it may have been but it induced a mood of frazzled frustration before you had even arrived to face the challenges of the day.
It had been a rather more relaxing evening in Ross-on-Wye, dining with Racing Post point-to-point correspondent Carl Evans in the town's Gurkha restaurant.
To answer your obvious questions:
- Yes, they had a picture of Joanna Lumley on the wall. Two in fact.
- If you've never sampled it, Gurkha cuisine appears to be a very tasty blend of Indian and Thai cooking. Though the restaurant also offered fajitas and nachos - those Mexicans clearly get everywhere.