Tag Archives: Cheltenham Festival

Racing Ahead

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been pretty busy and lots of fun. I went out for a few drinks in Camden recently. I do not go out there very often but when I do I always enjoy it. It has such a different and interesting vibe to it. Plus there are lots of great pubs to visit. It is an area where you really do see all sorts of people in every outfit you can imagine and yet nobody there looks out of place.

I ended the night in a pub that I always visit, when I am there. Which is the Hawley Arms. It simply is just a cool place to hang out with a great energy and atmosphere to it. It was famously Amy Winehouse’s local. There are lots of memories of her dotted around. It is also the place where Pete Doherty once held a press conference in the beer garden. They both used to drink there regularly. But it was a popular haunt with celebrities and music stars long before them. Liam Gallagher, David Bowie and Boy George were once fairly frequent visitors to the place. Having a drink there does make you feel a little bit like a pop star.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I made another one of my fairly regular visits to the excellent Old Rope comedy night in London last Monday. It is a new material night for top comedians at the Phoenix Pub just off Regent Street. The night is hosted by the wonderful Tiff Stevenson. She is helped by her dad and mum. Who work on the door and look after all the other acts. It was another great line up. The place was sold out with an audience of comedy lovers. Which does make for a lovely atmosphere for the comedians.

On the bill performing their new stuff were Eleanor Tiernan, Andy Zaltzman, Phil Wang, Tony Law, Tania Edwards and Simon Brodkin. They were all brilliant. It is all very honest. In that they will sometimes make reference to if a new bit has worked or not or even admit if something needs more work. As an audience member it does make you feel that you are part of the process of shaping their new shows. I also find that owing to the fact I have attended a comedy course with Logan Murray and because I am in the process of reading his book. I can spot some of the writing exercises, that they have been doing to create the new material. There is a process and science to comedy.

The headliner was the brilliant James Acaster. He did forty minutes of his latest show. Which is already hilarious and will probably be even better by the time he tours it. He really is on fire at the moment. It was another fun night. If you are free in London on a Monday night. Then go to the Old Rope. You really cannot go wrong.

Old Rope Comedy
Old Rope Comedy

While we are talking about comedy. Very sad news this week with the death of the great Ken Dodd. He died at the age of ninety in the same house he was born in and lived in all his life. And what a life it was. One of the best comedians this country has ever produced. Sharp, clever, funny, silly with a love of comedy and making people laugh. I do regret the fact that I never got to see him perform live. I bought my parents tickets to see him as a present once. His live shows were famed for over running. If he and the audience were having a good time (as they always were). He would just keep on going. It always got to the stage where people were in danger of missing last trains or trying to re-book taxi’s for later.

It was a running joke at every venue that the theatre staff would leave him the keys and he would lock up when he was finished. This was the case when my parents saw him. The show started at 7.30pm and the interval did not happen until 10pm. He eventually and probably reluctantly finished just after midnight. You could never say that you did not get value for money at a Ken Dodd gig. He rightly has a statue at Liverpool Lime Street Station. With him depicted holding one of his famous tickling sticks. It is a very welcoming sight when you arrive in to the city. RIP Doddy. Thanks for the laughs.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

My team Tottenham Hotspur have been knocked out of the Champions League. After a two all draw away at Juventus in the first leg. We were beating them one-nil at home in the second leg at Wembley Stadium. I was at the game. The atmosphere, as you would expect for such a big game was fantastic. We played brilliantly in the first half and were deservedly one up. All was looking good with the world. Then as soon as the Italian team got their first goal. It really seemed to jolt our players. They looked a bit shell shocked. Which seemed to lead to a lack of concentration. Which in turn lead to the second goal.

We gave it a good go and were unlucky when Harry Kane’s header hit the post in the dying minutes. If that had gone in it would have at least taken us to extra time. But alas it was not to be. The whole competition was fun. But as a team you can’t buy experience. Going out like this after doing so well, will hopefully help us to progress further next season.

Finishing in the top four has now become even more important for Spurs with the European adventure coming to an end. It would be disappointing to not be playing in the Champions League in the first season at our great new stadium. I was at Wembley to see us beat Huddersfield. Which was another important three points at home. It was also pleasing to see us bounce back from the European failure with a good away win on the south coast against Bournemouth.

The downside of that was Harry Kane going off with an ankle injury. Obviously any team would miss his goals and a player of his quality. But oddly our record when he has not played is not that bad. And personally I feel the team as a whole misses Christian Eriksen more. When he is out. That said I hope Harry is back and playing soon. And that we have a great end to the season.

Spurs v Juventus
Spurs v Juventus

Congratulations to Ant & Dec who recently celebrated the one hundredth episode of Saturday Night Takeaway. Which is still the best Saturday night entertainment show in my opinion. The centenary show featured lots of old clips from the show. It was fascinating how young the two Geordie presenters looked when it first started. They work so well together. It still regularly delivers new fun items and classic old favourites.

When a programme has been going for such a long time. It is so hard to keep the quality up. It is tough finding new ideas because they have basically done everything that can possibly be done. Which is always a problem for long running shows. However when you have those two fronting it. They can make anything entertaining. I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

BGT London
BGT London

Just a quick reminder that I do a weekly podcast. Which is basically a radio show on the internet with no music featuring stories and old interviews from my twenty years working in radio. It is available on I-tunes, so why not subscribe to it? Then you will get every new episode automatically downloaded to your device. I would also like to point out that it is free. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-neil-quigley-radio-podcast-ep7/id1236437663?i=1000406202689&mt=2

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

Thanks to my mate Dan Smith for giving me my first experience of the Cheltenham Festival last Wednesday. I am a big horse racing fan and have previously been to Royal Ascot and The Grand National meeting at Aintree. But never before had I been to the considered home of National Hunt racing. It had been on my to do list for a few years now. Therefore I was very happy to put that right on Ladies Day this year. As it is set in such a beautiful part of the country. The train journey itself gives you the chance to enjoy the wonderful countryside, as you head there with tens of thousands of fellow race goers.

It is as you would expect for an event that has been running for so long very well organised. They run shuttle buses from the station to the course for five pounds return. They pick you up outside the station and drop you right by the entrance. We were in the Club Enclosure. Which gives you a great view of the finishing line from the stands. It also offers you the chance to enjoy some nice bars. The whole course is so well designed that you can see the entire course sprawling out in front of you. All framed with the Cotswold Hills behind it. It really is a perfect setting.

Cheltenham Festival
Cheltenham Festival

As it is a race meeting that does pit the best British Trainers against their Irish counterparts .While taking place during St Patrick’s Day, week. I thought it would be rude not to have a few pints of Guinness, while I was there. The day’s racing itself was top quality. With some brilliant high class contests. You really cannot beat seeing the end of the races as the horses jump the last and fly up that big hill to the finish line. Especially if your horse is in contention still or ideally winning. It is perfectly acceptable to scream and shout at the top of your voice to cheer you selection home.

I bought a brand new suit for the occasion. And if I do say so myself, I was looking fairly Dapper. I had a brilliant day battling the on course bookies. I had a winner in the second race. Another winner in the fourth race. Then came the final race of the day. I was looking for an outsider to put an each way bet on. I recognised a horse that was called Relegate. I remember seeing it win somewhere before. I liked the fact it was being ridden by Katie Walsh. She is a great jockey. Who has had a lot of success over the jumps in Ireland. It had odds of 33-1 for it to win. I just fancied it, so I put a ten pounds each way bet on it.

I then returned to the grandstand to watch the race. With two fences to go my horse was right at the back of the field. Then after it had jumped the last it suddenly flew in to action and caught the horse that was leading right in front of me on the home straight. I had to double check it was my horse. As it had just come from nowhere. You can imagine my joy and excitement as it won. I netted three hundred and eighty pounds. Which was a great way to round off my first Cheltenham Festival. I also got to see the force of nature that is Altior storm to victory. I will definitely be returning there next year. I cannot wait. It really is a fantastic day out. If you are a fan of horse racing, it is something you must go and experience.

Cheltenham Festival
Cheltenham Festival

Today is St Patrick’s Day. My Granddad was born in Ireland and I do have an Irish surname. Which I think gives me the right to go out today and enjoy a couple of pints of Guinness. I will be heading as always to my favourite pub in London Waxy O’Connor’s. Which I also believe serves the best pint of Guinness in the capital.

It is always a great place to celebrate. They have live Irish music. The day will be improved further this year by the fact that Ireland play England in the Rugby Six Nations. Which will ramp up the atmosphere even further. I will let you know how it was next time we speak.

St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil

Irish Times

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a good couple of weeks. Mine have been by my standards fairly quiet really. Which has actually been quite nice. A bit of calm before the storm, as the next month or so is going to be nice and busy for me. Although short listed to be a contestant on a big new ITV show I did not in the end get chance to go on it and play the game.

The first series of it was filmed up in Manchester last week. It is a fun quiz called Alphabetical. Which is hosted by the excellent Jeff Stelling. It is really just an old school style general knowledge quiz with a couple of nice little twists to make it more original. Watch out for it on your television screens later this year. It is definitely worth a watch. It was lots of fun to play at the audition.

Neil Quigley TV Radio & Live
Neil Quigley TV, Radio & Live

A while ago now I did some recording sessions for a project a very good friend of mine Andy Holmes was working on. He has written a series of short radio plays. Which have now been produced starring an all star cast, including me. He is starting to release them on a weekly basis.

So far the first two episodes have been made available. I am personally involved in two of them. Playing a futuristic tour guide in one of the stories and then popping up and making a quick cameo guest appearance as a Radio Presenter in another of them.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was good fun going in to the studio to record my bits for these productions. I have worked with Andy Holmes on several things over the years and we always have a good time working together. It was a little different for me getting to play characters and doing a little bit of acting.

I am of course just more used to being myself on the radio. The great thing about radio plays of course is you do not need to learn the script as you can just read your lines during the recording itself.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The first one featuring me was released last weekend. The series is called The Andy Holmes Angle and the episode I appear in, which is episode two. Is called “The Empty Space”. That is the one where I play the Tour Guide in a galactic fantasy trip set in the future. A snapshot of what holidays could be like in the feature and in many ways a suggestion that the human race learns very little from past experiences.

As I said it was great fun to record and do listen out for an uncanny Ruth Madoc impersonation from me about half way through it. So here is a link to the play, for you to enjoy at your own convenience. Just simply click on it to hear it. The Empty Space

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am still suffering from nose bleeds due to my team Tottenham Hostpur still being up in second place in the English Premier League. This is the first time ever in my life that I have felt that just may be we could actually have a slight chance of winning the league. It is an odd and strange feeling that I am totally not used to at all. But that said long may it continue, please.

It was a bit of a shame going out of the Europa Cup to Borussia Dortmund. But the main prize of winning that is a place in the Champions League. Which hopefully we should achieve from our final league position. It is going to be an exciting run in with lots of twists and turns still to come, I’m sure. I just plan to enjoy every minute of, whatever happens in the end. Come on you Spurs.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am looking forward to going up to Liverpool for the Grand National Meeting next month. However this week it was the other big event in the jump horse racing season the Cheltenham Festival. Unfortunately I did not manage to make it along to the famous race course this time around. Although lots of my mates and even my parents enjoyed a day’s racing there this year.

I watched as many of the races as I could on television. It really is a great spectacle. It is retired former champion jockey AP McCoy’s favourite meeting. This year was the first year he had not had a ride there for twenty years. He was there still though working for Channel 4 and I found his comments and insight into the whole thing fascinating personally.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was an exciting week’s racing and you really get to see how close nit the racing community are. They are very competitive but at the same time very supportive of each other and do seem genuinely happy when others are successful. They really do love and take great care of those horses. There were also bumper record crowds there to witness lots of great races.

I thought the television coverage was brilliant and because they are all known people within horse racing, presenting it. They get access to and so get to speak to everybody. And because they know them all personally you get some really nice and intimate interviews with the jockey’s, trainers and owners alike.

Windsor Races Winning
Windsor Races Winning

The festival this year also saw a debut appearance from the Olympic Gold Medal cyclist Victoria Pendleton. She has retired from professional cycling and has dedicated the last twelve months to horse riding. With the big aim of being certified to ride in one of the biggest racing occasions in the world. She has been taught by the best and worked with some great trainers and top jockeys along the way.

She rode a Paul Nichols trained horse “Pacha Du Polder” in the prestigious Foxhunter Chase on the famous Gold Cup Day of the championships. Over the Gold Cup course itself. So from having never ridden a horse before to going over the jumps at one of the most testing race courses in the whole world inside twelve months is quite an achievement.

Neil Quigley & Jeff Nolan
Neil Quigley & Jeff Nolan

I was lucky enough to meet and interview Victoria Pendleton a few years ago at a cycle event she was an ambassador for at Whipsnade Zoo. She was I have to say absolutely lovely and clearly very passionate about her sport and keen that as many people as possible should get involved with it. To enjoy the obvious health benefits and at least some of the satisfaction that she got from training and competing at the high level that she did.

She clearly had great drive and dedication. So I was not surprised that she managed to fulfil her horse racing dreams. She is a great person and I wish her all the best with her next project, whatever that may be. This lady can probably just do anything she sets her mind to, to be honest.

Neil Quigley with Olympic Gold Medal Cyclist Victoria Pendleton
Neil Quigley with Olympic Gold Medal Cyclist Victoria Pendleton

Last Thursday it was of course St Patrick’s Day. Now as someone with some Irish roots (my Granddad was born in Southern Ireland) and a name like Quigley. I always like to celebrate this special occasion. In my opinion the best place to do this is at my favourite pub in London Waxy O’Connors. So I was in there during the afternoon enjoying a few pints of Guinness and listening to some brilliant live music. The atmosphere inside the place was as ever brilliant and perfect for the day.

St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day

I got in there just after midday and they had a band called Walking on Cars booked to play a short thirty minute set from around one thirty. They were brilliant and are definitely a name worth looking out for in the future. I spotted Chris Moyles’s producer the very lovely Pippa Taylor in there enjoying the music to. And the friend that I was meeting there Kayleigh Gill had an even better celebrity spot. As she saw Suggs from Madness having dinner in a restaurant on her way to the pub.

St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day

The staff and customers in there are always so nice and friendly. It really is a wonderful place to spend the afternoon. The decoration and styling of the place is also amazing.  Some parts have a church feel to it, some parts are like an old fashioned country pub. And who does not like a pub that is right in the middle of Central London and has a tree running right down the middle of it. You are in the heart of the city but once you head down the stairs and in to the lower bar. You feel like you are miles away from anywhere.

St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day

The music was great and perfect for the occasion all afternoon. Then from six they had yet more live music for the evening with a traditional Irish Trio featuring of course a fiddle player. They played a host of classic Irish Songs. Which had the whole place singing along to them. It was quite a sight with the bar full of people wearing Guinness hats and waving Irish flags. It was another brilliant St Patrick’s Day celebrated in my favourite pub in London.

St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day

The latest series of Newsjack has come to an end. The topical news comedy show will return to BBC Radio 4 Extra for another run later in the year. It was as ever brilliant fun writing jokes for the show once again. It is produced and performed by a very talented team. Plus it is a great stepping stone for new comedy writers to cut their teeth and progress their careers. A lot of people credited on the show have gone on to write and produce on a more regular basis for the broadcaster. So to be just a small part of that is a lovely feeling.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Newsjack is recorded in the Radio Theatre, which is part of the BBC Broadcasting House building in Central London. They record lots of top comedy radio shows there and that is where Radio 2 also do a lot of their music specials from. So if you hear that a band or singer is playing a small gig for the radio station. That would normally be coming from the theatre.

BBC Radio Theatre
BBC Radio Theatre

I was there though at the end of last year to watch a television show being filmed. It was called Live at the BBC. It is a new comedy show showcasing new and upcoming acts many of whom were spotted at the latest Edinburgh Festival. They are on line on BBC Three plus they have started showing some of them on BBC Two as well. They are well worth a look. I saw both James Acaster and Felicity Ward do their full latest stand up shows during the recording and they were both very funny. So do keep an eye out for it.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

I do have a few exciting things coming up over the next month of so. I am going to see a recording of the television show Safe Word in London in the next couple of weeks. I will also be at one of the new Tonight Live at The Palladium shows. That is always a great theatre to visit and I do really like a bit of variety, so that will be fun. And next month I will be attending the Gadget Show Live at the NEC in Birmingham. Which I am sure will be very interesting and a good laugh.

London Palladium
London Palladium

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.