THEY don’t make them like Mick Winters anymore.
Colourful, eccentric – however you want to describe the popular Irish trainer it won’t do him justice.
And if his Chatham Street Lad wins the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup today, Cheltenham's winners' enclosure won’t have seen anything like it.
Winters admits he is ‘a useless punter’, but he knows how to train and he knows how to celebrate.
He was all-but crowd-surfing in the paddock amid wild scenes after Rebel Fitz and Missunited won back-to-back Galway Hurdles in 2012 and 2013.
Can we expect something similar at the home of jumps racing this afternoon?
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Winters told Sun Racing: “I was very lucky to have Missunited and Rebel Fitz and they gave us some unbelievable days.
“Winning the two Galway Hurdles back-to-back was absolutely grand, amazing, you’ve never seen celebrations like it I tell you.
“I can’t promise we will go that mad if we win in Cheltenham – but we will surely make quite a commotion.”
And Winters reckons his horse has a live chance against the likes of Master Tommytucker and Al Dancer.
The eight-year-old has improved this season and was an easy winner at Cork last month on just his fifth start over fences.
Winters said: “I’ve always been a useless punter. I don’t like to back mine when they’re in good form in case I curse them.
“My family used to train greyhounds and we used to bet them at Cork. Not very well mind you.
“My wife Patricia used to drive the local fire engine in Kanturk to make some extra money because I was no good at betting!
“But I think this horse is a good each-way bet. I would need to do my homework on the English runners, but he’s improving.
“He is a fine big horse, so he is just coming into himself as an eight-year-old. He was bought as a horse who could carry weight and improve and he’s doing that.
“He won well in Cork and he appears to have improved again from it.
"He is still a novice chaser but he is a good solid jumper and we think he will run a solid race.”
When he sets off for Cheltenham, it’ll be the furthest Chatham Street Lad has been away from Winters' County Cork stable in his life.
The veteran trainer is anxious about the trip across the Irish Sea – for both himself and the horse.
He continued: “He’s never travelled far in his life. He’d be at the races and then two hours later he is normally home and out in the paddock, so it will be new for him.
“So it will be the first time he is away from home, which is about the same as me – I’m not a good traveller.”
Covid-19 restrictions in Ireland mean Winters will have to self-isolate when he gets home – but that’s a small price to pay.
“We still have the restrictions in Ireland because of the virus so it will mean shutting myself away when I get back.
“But when you’ve a big runner at Cheltenham, myself and the owners wouldn’t miss it for anything.”
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