A few West Ham stars got their own bit of horse racing action ahead of the recently culminated Cheltenham Festival. The Festival, always one of the most highly-anticipated races on the British calendar, was back on show after a trying year that saw just about everything cancelled or pushed back.
Four West Ham players participated in their own version of the Prestbury Cup a few days before the first day of said event, with Jesse Lingard, Mark Noble, Michail Antonio and Darren Randolph splitting up into teams of two to go head-to-head in some friendly competition set up by Betway.
Lingard and Noble made up Team UK while Randolph and Antonio carried the Flag for Team Ireland. The first part of the competition involved some drawing – the teams were asked to draw a horse and the one with the one most pleasing to the eye would pick up the first set of points.
Team UK went out ahead on that front as their drawing was a kinder sight than the other team’s, which actually had to get blurred out presumably due to some graphic appendage. Lingard and Noble widened their lead on the back of the second task, which required them to determine whether former jockey Ruby Walsh was telling fibs after one of her strange racing stories.
The story seemed a bit much for Antonio and Randolph but actually turned out to be true, which meant they were to end the second round with no points.
The third challenge was pretty easy for Team UK as they simply had to guess who was the scorer of a particular goal based on just the commentary. The goal, scored by Lingard against Aston Villa, isn’t one he’d easily forget so he wasted no time naming it.
The final part of the competition offered the most points, as well as a chance for Team Ireland to make up for its prior failures and win the entire thing. The players were shown footage from a past horse race but weren’t allowed to see it through to the end as they needed to guess who won.
Randolph ended up making the correct pick, going with a horse that seemed set for defeat as there was quite a bit of ground to cover to get into first place before the finish line. That’s exactly what happened, though. And, with Antonio also picking the second correctly, Team Ireland managed to usurp Team UK at the very last.
It appears West Ham could be the place to look to should you need expert tips for upcoming races. It’s too late to bet on the Cheltenham Festival but there are more exciting races set to come into play, including the Grand National, which takes place on April 10. Cloth Cap is the outright favourite to win the race and jockey Tom Scudamore says he’s a worthy pick for first place.
“He’s been a tremendous ride who’s going from strength to strength and is a worthy favourite,” Scudamore said, per the BBC.
“It’s up to the bookmakers to decide what is a fair price and what isn’t but I’m hoping that come that Saturday evening, he’ll be looking like he was a massive price.”
The jockey also commented on the fact that Irish-trained aces won 23 races while the Great Britain team could only take five on home soil.
“We well and truly had our backsides tanned and it’s up to us to go out and change it,” he said.
“Last week was a lesson to everybody that we have a lot of catching up to do it. It’s deeds that matter and we’ve all got to pull our socks up.”
Meanwhile, the Hammers are having their best season in the Premier League, just two points off the top four and there’s serious hope they could finish the campaign in a Champions League spot. Lingard’s addition has worked out pretty well; the English attacker has scored five goals and assisted two others in his seven appearances for the team and his performances have seen him recalled to the England squad.
As for how far West Ham can go is left to be seen. Lingard’s impact has been great while Antonio of the most stylish footballers of all time has proven just as valuable as we’ve become used to.