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Father Ted gives second best to pig and a Swan

By Billy Weir

The name of Walsh is never too far away from the headlines when it comes to equine-based achievements at Cheltenham but not for porcine-based ones.

The first day of the Festival is now legally bound to be called Ruby Tuesday, his wee sister, Katie, will probably win a race before the week is out and father Ted is simply super.

It's not often that the elder statesman of Channel Four's expert team is lost for words so for it to happen twice was almost as remarkable as his wee lad only winning two races.

The Morning Line was the scene-setter and picking a winner of the day's big race, the Champion Hurdle, was the main talking point for host Nick Luck, a man not prepared to settle for, err, luck.

So while Ted and Mick Fitzgerald were buzzing about a Fly, Hurricane to you and me, a Swan, in the shape of former jockey, Charlie, jumped on board a jet ski.

I know it has been a tad wet down in the West Country this year but that's just ridiculous. Oh, Jezki. I feel foolish now.

But not as daft as poor Tania Beckett, formerly known as the 'female' before John McCririck's acrimonious departure, who turned up on screen with a pig, although not of the male chauvinist variety.

So, standing beside a pink, flabby, grunting beast (insert joke about John here) she informed us that our porky chum, called Star, was something of a clever swine having predicted five of Gloucester rugby club's last six matches correctly by picking the correct swill bowl.

Back in the studio, Ted's face was a picture as Luck asked him for his thoughts.

"It's pretty pathetic now I'll tell you that much," he said after a long pause, and it was a similar story later in the day when he was asked by Clare Balding to tell us why Cheltenham was so special.

"I couldn't put it into words," he replied, helpfully, before finding some words. Lots of them.

"It's like a kid who still thinks Santy Claus is going to come on Christmas morning or like when you meet someone in your life that you know is special. Cheltenham is like that feeling." Okay Ted, you've said enough.

"If heaven is like this, I won't mind dying," he concluded as Clare wished she'd never asked.

Now at this stage I would love to say that this pig's tale had a happy ending, but alas no as Star chose the bowl with Our Conor's name on it.

Tragically, the brave mount was to die in the big race won by Jezki, going to prove that if you want to make the bookies flap, chose a Swan so you don't make a pig's ear of it.

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