Adventures of Sinbad: On Paddy's power and testing Tigers
James Simpson-Daniel's weekly column: The Adventures of Sinbad.
Brought to you in association with rugby charity Wooden Spoon
PADDY Anson ought to make his first day's racing his last, if his beginner's luck is anything to go by.
Our head of strength and conditioning was just one of a group of Gloucester men who had never been racing before last week.
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Nigel Davies organised it for us to go to Cheltenham on Friday, as a team social event.
It was a nice touch from our rugby director, it went down well with the boys and everyone had a good day down at the racecourse.
Jimmy Cowan and Huia Edmonds had their first taste of jumps racing, and racing in England in fact.
And then it was a first for guys like Freddie Burns as well, I think.
But of the new boys it was Paddy who came up trumps, in fact he probably had the best day of all of us.
I'm sure he wouldn't really profess to any kind of in-depth knowledge – but he picked five from seven winners.
Maybe his fitness and physiology background meant he was picking the horses on which looked in the best shape!
Whatever his secret, it's probably worth him quitting while he's miles ahead!
The racehorse I part own along with Mike Tindall and former Gloucester team-mate Nicky Robinson, Monbeg Dude, unseated his rider.
I bet you can just imagine the reaction that got from the rest of the Gloucester lads.
There were some great outfits from the boys at the racing, everyone made a great effort and scrubbed up well.
Flat caps and tweed were in abundance, and Charlie Sharples even pulled out a red blazer.
After playing on Thursday night last week we had an opportunity to rest, but Nigel thought it would be a good chance for some squad bonding.
We could have gone paintballing or anything like that, but I think the races went down well.
Everyone enjoyed themselves on Friday, but that didn't spill over past the weekend into this week.
We got stuck straight into training and there hasn't even been mention of Friday since.
In a week where you host perennial powers Leicester at the end of it, I think that's pretty encouraging.
Everyone is totally focused on what will be a huge challenge.
WE NEED A COMPLETE PERFORMANCE ESPECIALLY WITH TIGERS IN TOWN
A WIN against the Tigers would be massive for us: but we know that to pull that off we’ve got to finally hit our peak.
We’ve got a lot of confidence in our ability and potential as a group – but we haven’t fulfilled that yet on the field.
We’ve produced the kind of rugby we’re after in fits and starts, and there’s no doubt everyone’s very encouraged by our ability to grind out results.
But against sides like Leicester you’ve got to be at your best for 80 minutes.
Playing well for half the game will not be anywhere near enough this weekend.
Everyone was very frustrated with our second-half performance against Bordeaux last week.
Winning with the bonus point was important – but we’d set ourselves that still-elusive target of a strong performance for the game’s full duration.
Once again we could not muster that: if we’d scored early on in the second-half things might have been different, but in saying that they were very streetwise and committed.
One positive perhaps is that at least we learned more about ourselves and what we need to improve, at the same time as getting the result we needed.
Had we continued our first-half form against Bordeaux and claimed a hatful of scores, we might not have been able to draw much from the game.
And maybe we would have been lulled into a false sense of security.
Well there’s certainly no danger of that this week, and no danger of any complacency either.
Clashes with Leicester are usually pretty tense and exciting, and I can’t see anything else this time round – we can’t wait.
RELIEF was the chief emotion when Frankel won at Ascot – it keeps me just about alive on the tipping front!could certainly do with this week’s tip coming good, though. I’m backing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be leading at half-time tomorrow night but the Minnesota Vikings to win at full-time.’s decent odds at 8/1, and hopefully it will give me another boost.