Back

Cheltenham Chat: We talk to Sunderland’s resident racing fans about all things Festival

Richard Marsh | 11 March 2019

The 2019 Cheltenham Festival is almost here, and we can’t wait for four days and 28 races of top-notch equine action.

And we’re not the only ones. We’ve been chatting all things Cheltenham with a few of the guys at Sunderland.

We sat down with striker Chris Maguire, defender Reece James, and the club’s legendary kit man John Cooke, to get their take on festival fever…

Coral: Hi chaps! The Cheltenham Festival is upon us! Tell us how you normally go about choosing your nags for the week…

Chris: “I don’t mess around here. I jump on to the Racing Post app and do the research!”

Reece: “There’s no need for the Racing Post. There’s one man to go to and that’s Cookie, the kit man.”

Cookie: “I don’t know how I manage to do it every time. But I always feel sorry for the sick horses. The problem is, I don’t know they’re sick when I back them!

Is there anyone in the squad who fancies themselves as a bit of a tipster?

Chris: “Hmmm, none of the players, but Cookie does!”

Reece: “You know what I’m going to say – Cookie!”

Cookie: “Rubbish, I’m saying Chris Maguire!”

What do you enjoy most about racing?

Chris: “I love that absolutely nothing is guaranteed and it’s not over until it’s over.”

Reece: “It’s all about the day out.”

Cookie: “Yeah I’m with Reece here. Racing is about the craic!”

If you had your own horse, what would you call it?

Chris: “This is easy – The King!”

Cookie: “Cookie, obviously!”

Reece: “Leo.”

What’s your favourite Cheltenham memory?

Chris: “It’s got to be Altior in last year’s Champion Chase. What a run. What a horse!”

Reece: “For me it’s Denman winning the Gold Cup in 2008.”

Who do you fancy for the Gold Cup?

Chris: “I’m going with Presenting Percy this year.”

Reece: “Native River for me.”

Cookie: “I’m probably going with Kemboy this year. You don’t usually go too far wrong with a Willie Mullins runner.”

Who do you reckon has it tougher – footballers or jockeys?

Chris: “Definitely footballers, because we can’t rely on a horse!”

Reece: “Hmmm, I’m going to say footballers due to the competitiveness.” 

Cookie: “Jockeys because they put their life on the line.”

And finally, we’ve got to ask… have you got a hot tip for the Festival?

Chris: “Ha. Yeah I have… Sunderland to get promoted!”

Reece: “What Chris said! And if you can, speak to Cookie for a hot tip!”

Cookie: “Oh, don’t back what I back!”