Exclusive Kevin Davies column

I was a winner at Cheltenham this week!
I was a winner at Cheltenham this week!
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That winning feeling seems to be following me about at the moment!

PNE’s recent good run which has brought us seven wins in our last nine games – the only defeat in that time being against Manchester United in the FA Cup – was obviously a good omen for me when I went to the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday.

I managed to back a couple of winners, including Qualando – a 25-1 shot in the 4.40pm Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

The Paul Nicholls-trained horse, ridden by Nick Scholfield, handed me a tidy sum towards the end of the day – just as well as I had lost a few pennies earlier on.

Qualando’s victory got me back in the game and ensured I ended the day’s racing even.

To be honest, I’m not a massive gambler – I’ve never had a gambling account.

But when you go to events like these – I was a guest of Betfred – you make sure you have a couple of quid on each race and it’s more fun than anything else.

You just try to enjoy the day.

I am not really one of these people who reads the form in any great depth.

I try to do a little bit of research before, but you get too much information.

A lot of people just pick out a nice name which catches their eye.

Usually, you pick the favourite and it’s a banker, but it obviously does not always work out like that.

There does not seem to be any science to it at all, you just follow your instincts and it’s all a bit of a lottery.

When Qualando came home out of a field of 26 runners, I was delighted because I think I was the only one out of our box who picked it.

All in all it was just a really enjoyable day. Betfred looked after us and there were a few famous faces in the paddock.

I actually travelled down with Gary Pallister – the former England Manchester United defender – and David May, who also played for United, was there too.

One of the Red Devils’ biggest supporters, the television presenter Eamonn Holmes was also enjoying the racing.

The Dutch darts players Michael van Gerwen was in 
our box, which has interested the rest of the lads at North End.

There are a few keen darters in our squad and so I had a bit of a chat and laugh with Van Gerwen.

He gave me a few tips so I’m hoping to throw some good arrows when I next take to the oche at the training ground!

It was great to catch up with Pally and David May.

Pally was saying that it’s 15 years since he packed in playing and May has been retired a few years.

We were reminiscing about old times. Those two were proper old-school centre-halves – took no prisoners, but could play a bit too.

Pally is always good for a story or two and he was recounting a tale about Vinny Jones and Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang when they tried to intimidate him.

I think Pally had just made his England debut and in the very next game, United were playing a league game against the Dons.

Just before kick-off, Jones apparently pointed over towards Pally and shouted, at the top of his voice, to the rest of the Crazy Gang, ‘There he is...there’s the one we want’!

Stuff like that is funny to look back on.

I can recall times when I was on the receiving end of tactics like that but I never really felt inimidated, even when I was younger.

I remember making my debut at West Ham as a 16-year-old and David Burrows coming right through the back of me. It was a really bad tackle, but rather than let it affect me, I went and got him back, which was how it was back then.

I always enjoyed that side of the game and the physical battles.

While I enjoyed my day at the races, my focus is totally on Saturday’s home game against Crewe at Deepdale.

The run of wins we have had in recent times has put us back in the top two and the plan is to stay there.

After the blip in January – when many people were writing us off – we have come back with a vengeance. It just shows how quickly things can turn around.

Crewe are a bit of a bogey side for us so we will have to make sure we are at our best this weekend.