Opinion

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We were hopeful Kingswell Theatre would run a good race in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase on Friday (17 November). He took to the cross-country fences really well at the Festival in March (when finishing 10th) and we had taken him to Cheltenham earlier in the week to have a school over the fences, which he’d loved — he absolutely came to life.

It is obviously a very different type of race but Kingswell Theatre is a very accurate jumper and he’s pretty clever too — he was always going to enjoy it.

However, the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham is always dominated by the Irish, in particular Enda Bolger, so I would have been very happy if he’d come home in the placings, let alone won it.

The plan was to have him handy, although perhaps not quite as handy as my brother Tom had him! He made most of the running and I was just praying Tom remembered where to go — the cross-country race is notoriously difficult for jockeys to navigate if you’re at the front of the field.

After receiving a ban for going the wrong way once before, Tom vowed not to ride in a cross-country race again, he’s never really enjoyed the idea of them, so I was glad he came out of cross-country race retirement to ride my lad.

Kingswell Theatre may look like a tough and brave horse on the racecourse but he is actually very sensitive and gets bored easily. In between his races we take him hunting and I try to keep him off the gallops as much as possible.

The cross-country race is perfect for him because there is plenty in it to keep him interested and he can’t switch off.

It was great to be back in the winner’s enclosure at Cheltenham; it is always a special place and it was my first win in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. In the past, I have enjoyed success at Cheltenham with our flag-bearer Monbeg Dude, who is now retired. It is so hard to find horses like him — they don’t come along very often.

Kingswell Theatre will hopefully be back at Cheltenham before Christmas and his long-term plan is the Grand National, however, we have a lot of bridges to cross before then. It was a fantastic win also for the horse’s owners, John and Judith Murray, and a brilliant day all round for the yard.

Ref Horse & Hound; 23 November 2017