TV View: ‘Don’t touch the buttons’ – Ted Walsh Zooms in

Impossible Games sees competitors take part in several countries – and in their gardens

Armand Duplantis of Sweden competes in the men’s pole vault during the Diamond League Impossible Games at Bislett Stadium in Oslo, June 11th. Photograph: Epa/Cornelius Poppe

Armand Duplantis of Sweden competes in the men’s pole vault during the Diamond League Impossible Games at Bislett Stadium in Oslo, June 11th. Photograph: Epa/Cornelius Poppe

 

We could be underestimating Ted Walsh’s interest in computery things – and apologies if that is the case – but you’d have half a notion that before this period in his life the veteran horse trainer and commentator, like most of us, would have thought Zoom was just a 1980s tune by Fat Larry’s Band. But there he was on Saturday, appearing at the Curragh via Zoom, his son-in-law Killian having set it up for him, warning him “not to touch any buttons”.

For sport-on-telly watchers, there have been quite a few peak lockdown moments in recent weeks, but this was, perhaps, the peakiest of them all. It’d have made your heart go boom, too, Ted having been absent from our screens for far too long.

“Ted, you’re looking great,” said Hugh Cahill.

“I’m surviving any way,” he replied. “If Leo Varadkar had his way, I’d be in a six by four.”

Hugh, perhaps reluctant to allow Ted expand on his theory that the Taoiseach was intent on doing him in, moved swiftly along, attempting to redirect the fella’s thoughts towards horses.

You sensed, then, that Ted hasn’t tremendously enjoyed being cocooned, no more than Jessica Harrington who was also zoomed to the Curragh from her home down the road in Moone.

“I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs,” she said while her dog barked its head off in the background. “I can’t be there, which is a bit irritating, but any way, it is what it is.”

It is indeed what it is, and we just have to get used to these unusual sights, like Hugh, Jane Mangan and Ruby Walsh standing at lecterns two metres apart at the Curragh, looking for all the world like they were taking part in a Primetime leaders’ debate. All we needed was for Miriam O’Callaghan to appear and ask them for their position on carbon emissions.

Unlike the jockeys and trainers who Brian Gleeson spoke with, the trio weren’t wearing masks, so we were able to actually understand what they were saying, like when they were discussing Galileo’s promiscuity.

Peaceful, who won the day’s biggie, the 1,000 Guineas, was, Hugh told us, the 85th child of Galileo to win a Group 1 race, so if you consider that he’s probably had a heap more kids who haven’t achieved the feat, then he’s some ram.

Apparently, Peaceful’s ma, Missvinski, stayed “faithful” to Galileo after they first met, while he carried on sowing his oats like Casanova on steroids. When he chatted with Brian, jockey Seamie Heffernan paid tribute to Peaceful by describing her as “uncomplicated”, which can’t be said for her home life.

Impossible Games

Gjert Ingebrigtsen is kind of the Galileo of the athletics world having sired Henrik, Filip and Jakob who, between them, have won a fair few Group 1 races themselves.

They teamed up on Saturday to collect their quirkiest triumph yet, beating Team Cheruiyot in the 2,000m at the Impossible Games in Oslo, the Ingebrigtsens running in front of cardboard cut-out fans at the Bislett Stadium, their opponents, Timothy Cheruiyot and co, running in, well, Nairobi. It’s weirder things are getting.

The highlight of the whole evening, though, was the pole vault contest between Armand Duplantis and Renaud Lavillenie. But we could only see Duplantis in the stadium, no sign of his rival. “Let me explain,” said Steve Cram, “Lavillenie is not here, he’s in his back garden in France.”

He was too. And his house is in quite a built-up spot, his garden just about big enough to accommodate his pole vaulting set-up, so there was a danger that if things went horribly wrong, he could have landed on his neighbour’s barbecue.

Back in Oslo, Duplantis cleared 5.86m but over in France, Lavillenie could only manage 5.81, Cram somewhat banjaxing the tension of the competition by telling us that Lavillenie had actually done his vaulting the day before and was probably “sitting at home watching Duplantis while having a beer”.

We have now entered you couldn’t make it up territory.

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