Adventures of Sinbad: Monbeg Dude and London Irish
James Simpson-Daniel's weekly column: The Adventures of Sinbad.
Brought to you in association with rugby charity Wooden Spoon
SATURDAY provided massively mixed emotions for me – from exhilaration to sympathy and shared frustration really.
The rush of watching Monbeg Dude come back to claim the Welsh Grand National was incredible, and like nothing I've experienced before.
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All that was tempered by the news Gloucester had lost to London Irish.
I really felt for my Gloucester team-mates on that one, because sometimes things just don't go your way – and it seemed as though nothing would come off on Saturday.
There's clearly plenty to put right and we deserved to lose, but I know the lads were massively frustrated with their performance and that always hurts the most.
Nigel Davies was kind enough to let me go down to Chepstow to watch the racing, which meant I missed the Gloucester match.
I wouldn't have gone for anything other than a massive race and, to be honest, I think given my injury a distraction was pretty welcome.
It certainly pepped me up a lot, seeing jockey Paul Carberry hold his nerve and time his late run perfectly.
Paul is an expert of races like that where the horse will stay and needs to time the move very carefully.
And he pulled off a real masterstroke at the weekend.
We'd love to reprise that partnership between horse and jockey in the future at some point, they seem a great fit.
Martin St Quinton's horse Triggerman came home in third, so it was a good day race-wise for Gloucester.
The team had a tough day of it on Saturday, of course, but I honestly believe we have the ability and the mental strength to make sure that result is proven to be a blip.
We know we have to react quickly now with performances and results – I am confident we can do that – but I am also being realistic enough to appreciate that there were far too many shortcomings last week and a lot of work is required to put them all right.
A KINGSHOLM QUARTER FINAL WOULD BE SO FANTASTIC:
A HOME quarter-final in the Amlin Challenge Cup is the biggest aim of the next fortnight.
That’s exactly what we’ve got to secure.
It would be fantastic to set up a massive game at Kingsholm against potentially a team dropping down from the Heineken Cup for the Amlin’s last eight.
It would be fantastic – but that’s the limit of how far we can talk about that possibility.
We cannot start plotting for that, instead we’ve got to go out and make it a reality.
We have two massive games in Europe in the next two weeks, where only two wins will be good enough.
Bordeaux and Mont de Marsan might have struggled at the start of the season but both teams are really picking up lately.
The first challenge is to go to France on Friday night and beat Bordeaux, and that’s a big test.
But I know after last week everyone is dead-set on starting the process of atoning for the London Irish loss – and there could be no better way than by winning across The Channel.
TURNOUT FOR OUR CLUB LEGEND SPOKE VOLUMES OF THE MAN:
THE stories Mike Nicholls’ contemporaries tell about him are amazing.
We were lucky enough to hear a few at his funeral, and then from his old team-mates at the wake afterwards on Tuesday.
The turnout at Gloucester Cathedral was phenomenal, and just goes to show what an impact he has had on the Cherry and Whites and on those he played with and against.
We took an early decision as a squad that we would all attend the funeral – it was talked about but not for long.
It seemed the only way, we had to be there.
I hope the sheer number of people who attended and the stories fondly told can prove of some comfort to Mike Nicholls’ family in the future.
I can’t imagine what they are feeling and will not try – but I sincerely hope they feel proud of a man who did so much for Gloucester, and clearly without any kind of fuss.
WHAT a shame there was no column last week because of the festive period.
Obviously, I would have tipped Monbeg Dude for victory in the Welsh National!
This week I’m backing Bradley in the 3.35 at Warwick on Saturday.
That’s the horse that finished second to Monbeg Dude in the Henrietta Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in November.
Here’s hoping for a good start to 2013 on the tip front.