It was eleventh heaven for punters at the Castle Bar in Glanmire yesterday as Un de Sceaux won the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham with a length to spare.
There were huge cheers as the 7/4 favourite, ridden by Ruby Walsh, romped home and left the chasing pack well behind to become the eleventh Irish winner at the festival this week.
Before the race, the village of Riverstown was awash with blue and orange scarves – the racing colours of Un de Sceaux - as people made their way to the popular pub to cheer on the horse which is owned by local businessman Eddie O'Connell.
There wasn't standing room in the bookies next door as a steady stream of hopeful betters threw on last minute flutters before hurrying back into the bar to get a drink and a decent viewing spot.
Spirits were buoyant among the locals ahead of the race but not over-confident, despite Un de Sceaux being unbeaten this year. Some expressed worries about rival horse Sub Lieutenant, who was priced at 8-1.
Several people wouldn't speak to this reporter on the record because as one man put it: “I'm not meant to be here in a pub early on Thursday afternoon with a pint in one hand and a betting slip in the other but that's what Cheltenham does to you”.
With a wink and smile he was off to grab a place in front of the big screen, safe in the anonymity of the crowd.
The drinks were flowing right up until the starting gate opened and suddenly the barman was able to take a well-deserved breather with all eyes on the telly.
The Willie Mullins trained horse led from early on in the race. When three to jump became two, the volume was raised. When the final fence was cleared it became deafening.
“We were hoping he'd do it for the village the country and everyone in here today,” said Noel Mahon from Copper Valley.
Noel's dad Jimmy Mahon had travelled from Dundalk, as he does every year, to enjoy the big day with his son.
“We think Un de Sceaux is deadly, he's a local horse and it's great to show support. I had absolute faith he would win, it would have taken a miracle to beat him, or a fall,” he said.
Local man Shane Barry said it was a great win for the O'Connells who are much loved in Glanmire: “The fact that they are local is great and everyone here is very proud of the horse.”
Riverstown restaurant owner Luciano Tavolieri said the family have been great for the area and they had assured everyone the horse would not lose, while others spoke of the O'Connell's constant support for the local community.