THE INSIDE RAIL | by Sean Clancy

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I typed the words.

“Where the hell is everybody?”

Then I paused, walked around in circles and stared into the abyss of standing water below Allen Jerkens’ barn at Gulfstream Park. It didn’t feel right.

“Did you read this?”

“What?”

“In the Racing Post. It says an unidentified American owner has purchased a German horse. Sait. En. Sohn. It says the three-time hurdle winner will be transferred to Jonjo O’Neill and be pointed at the SunAlliance at Cheltenham…”

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My heart skipped. It doesn’t happen too often and I remember every time it has…Annie Kontos in 1990…first Steeplechase Times in 1994…Good Night Shirt in 2004… and a few others I probably shouldn’t mention.

It skipped at Cheltenham March 13, 2007.

With 14 days before the opening roar of the opening day of Cheltenham, I bring you my Festival Fourteen. A countdown to the big day – recaps rather than previews. Not necessarily the best performers or performances since I started going to Cheltenham in 2002, but the ones who left an indelible mark – the ones who changed my day, my mood, my wallet, or my life.

Number 14. Istabraq. 2002.

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I go to a lot of meetings these days. I guess it’s adulthood, when life becomes an array of community causes and conference calls, charities and challenges. I figure when you critique and criticize – especially in print – then it’s your duty to serve. Right? Please, say right.