No finger on the pulse

A Breaffy Man in Castlebar
No finger on the pulse

Edwin McGreal

I’ve a habit of going to Galway on Race Week.
First went there as an wide eyed 18-year-old in 2000 and I’ve been going there wide-eyed pretty much every year since.
That’s what happens when you believe you know what you are at with horses when the reality is that you are a bluffer. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and all that.
That’s the advice my bank manager would be entitled to give me every August anyway.
I should have heeded advice I got on the first day when we arrived in 2000. Eating in Cafe Kylemore in Eyre Square (where all us culchies go to eat when we’re in Galway, don’t you know), a middle-aged man asked myself and Liam McHale could he join our table in the crowded restaurant.
Of course we let him sit and he gave us one piece of advice - ‘back Dermot Weld’.
I probably would have heeded him, because I always heed racing advice from perfect strangers, if he didn’t turn around and slander my grandfather in the next sentence.
‘Where are ye from?,’ he asked. Breaffy and Ballyvary he was told.
Looking at me he blurts out: ‘you probably know that b....x of a cattle dealer, Eamonn McGreal so’.
Liam can’t contain his laughter, I am speechless and Dermot Weld’s number one fan shifts around awkwardly in his seat for a couple of seconds before getting up and leaving us and half his dinner on the table.
My late grandfather loved that story and wanted a description of who this man was who he had apparently slighted years ago. I was less impressed because I took the slight personally and so, in revenge, refused to back any Dermot Weld horse that year.
Not the smartest thing to do at the Galway Races and certainly not that year. Maybe yer man was a bookie in disguise.
This year work and football have kept me from Galway so, finally realising that my little knowledge is a dangerous thing, I tell everyone I will not be betting on the races either.
And then irony comes along and throws me a haymaker right in the gob. Two Breaffy lads, JP Gibbons and Barry Jordan, get a fancy for Finger on the Pulse in the Galway Plate once they hear Tony McCoy is riding and suddenly half our football team is on board.
And in he comes at 25/1. Me, in my wilful detachment from all things Galway, only hears this news about an hour after the race. My only consolation is that Dermot Weld didn’t train the horse so my grandfather’s ‘friend’ made nothing either.