The double whammy long weekends afforded me an opportunity to catch up with in-laws in Dublin. Arriving on Good Friday caused a mild panic as I’d clean forgotten that the sale of alcohol is forbidden in Ireland on Good Friday (and Christmas Day). Hard to believe now that this law, which dates back to 1927, originally prohibited alcohol on St Patrick’s Day, this was later repealed much to the relief of Vintners throughout the Isle. A Saturday morning trip to the excellent O'Briens, of which there are at least a dozen in Dublin, managed to source Trimbach Pinot Blanc and CUNE Rioja Crianza to partner that evening’s fiery Thai curry, as well as a nervy Savigny-Les Beaune 2005 and young but accessible Saint Emilion for a traditional Easter lunch.
On Easter Monday I managed to cajole my brother-in-law, Armando, to accompany me to the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, 20 minutes north of the city. There were plenty of well-turned out folk with ‘fascinators’ aplenty, including Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary (note: he wasn’t wearing a fascinator). As well as running several horses on the day under his Gigginstown House Stud banner, the Ryanair boss was offering a ‘deal or no deal’ €100,000 to buy the winning horse of the fourth race – a point-to-point ‘Bumper’. I never found out if the winner was sold, but if so, I hope the vendor charged Mr O’Leary a few extras, for example, ‘would you like horse shoes? - £10 each, not included in original price’.
Regretably, I was having one of those days which keeps the bookies in business. Further punishment was mitigated by the huge queue to the one ATM on the course, before I spotted that several of the tic-tacs accepted Sterling as well as Euros. I took the short head loss of Uncle Tom Cobley as a sign to beat a retreat and several restorative Guinnesses (Guinni?) soothed my pain.
Congratulations to Nina Carberry, only the second female jockey to win the big race itself and who will likely one day be the first woman to win the Aintree version.