The Winners 2017 Under 12 Runner Up

It is Wednesday 16th March 2016. There are approximately 60,000 people at Cheltenham Racecourse. I am one of them. Around 15,000 have, like me, come over from Ireland. I don't know how many of those took a day off school to be here, but I think I’m the only one.

9.30am - At school, students are leaving assembly and walking to class. At Cheltenham, I am walking the course. The hoof prints from yesterday’s racing are still clearly visible. Maybe that one is from the mighty Douvan. Perhaps this one was made by new Champion Hurdler Annie Power on her way into the history books.

10.30am - At school, pupils are running around the playground. At Cheltenham, I am running from the last fence to the winning post up the famous Cheltenham hill. My boots sink into the soft, green turf. At school, the soles of the boys’ shoes slap against the hard, black Tarmac.

12.30pm - At school, my friends are eating a disappointing lunch at a round, brown table. At Cheltenham, I am eating hot, salty chips beside the vibrant, green circle that is the parade ring.

3.10pm - At school, students in grey shorts and grey jumpers sit quietly in a beige classroom. At Cheltenham, colours and noise are all around as the jockeys come out for the Champion Chase. Ruby Walsh in the blue and orange of the favourite. Noel Fehily looks like the American flag. Nico de Boinville is wearing the red and blue colours carried by 2013 champion Sprinter Sacre. The buzz from the crowd builds as people start to believe he can regain his title.

3.20pm - At school, the bell rings in the corridor and the boys pack up and go to their final class of the day. At Cheltenham, the bell rings in the paddock and the jockeys mount up and go to parade in front of the stands.

3.40pm - At school, lessons are over and pupils are pushing and jostling to be first out of class. At Cheltenham, Sprinter Sacre barges his way to the front as the horses round the final turn. He soars over the last and powers up the Cheltenham hill, the same hill I ran up only five hours ago. When I did it the stands were empty and lifeless, now they are full of people roaring him home. At school, students run into the car park and wave to their mums. At Cheltenham, Sprinter Sacre flashes across the line in front and the jubilant jockey waves his whip at the crowd in triumph.

3.45pm - At school, boys are making their way home through busy afternoon traffic. At Cheltenham, I am making my way through the exuberant crowd to the parade ring to see the new champion.

17th March - At school, I am catching up on the work I missed, but my thoughts are elsewhere. At Cheltenham.


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