Nick Scholfield’s blog: highs and lows at the Cheltenham Festival

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  • Now the Cheltenham Festival is over it’s back to daily life as normal — until Aintree at least. This week has been good so far for me though, I rode my 50th winner of the season on Monday (17 March) on Lamps so I was really pleased with that.

    The week at Cheltenham was awesome. The Festival always has a great atmosphere and there were some fantastic moments, so it’s hard to single out a highlight.

    The Gold Cup was probably the most exciting — it was very eventful, what with the photo finish and then the stewards’ enquiry. And the winner Lord Windermere was obviously a bit of a surprise at 20-1.

    That’s a huge training performance from Jim Culloty though. For him to ride a Gold Cup winner [Best Mate] 3 times and then train one is some achievement.

    Quevega winning her 6th Mares’ Hurdle was amazing too. Again, it’s a great training effort from Willie Mullins. To get a horse to the Festival 6 years in a row, let alone win every time, is impressive. She just shows her superiority time and time again.

    Jamie Moore and Sire De Grugy were popular winners in the weighing room. When they came back after the Champion Chase we all went out into the paddock to welcome them back. Jamie’s not had a winner at the Festival before and it was fantastic for him. He’s one of the nicest guys and we all know how much that horse means to him.

    Highs and lows

    Going into Cheltenham I had several nice rides, especially on the 1st day, but sadly I didn’t have a winner.

    Irving [who was favourite for the Supreme] did disappoint, but I don’t think he showed his true colours. We were beaten by a very good horse in Vautour though.

    Melodic Rendezvous (pictured) was just not quick enough over 2m on good ground [in the Champion Hurdle]. I think he’ll be stepped up in trip now, and might go over fences or to the World Hurdle next year, depending on what his connections decide.

    Obviously I was disappointed not to have a winner, but you have to put it into context, and with all the jockey injuries I’m lucky really to come out of it unscathed. It’s a competitive sport, we’re all opposition in the races and want to win, but when it comes down to it we all stick together.

    Accidents do happen, it’s part of the game and you can’t really think about it.

    I went to see Daryl Jacob on Thursday (20 March) and he was in good form. He’s broken his knee, leg and elbow, but he’s being well looked after. All our thoughts are with him and the others on the injury list — Bryan Cooper, Ruby Walsh and Jason Maguire.

    Big Buck’s retired

    It was the best decision to retire Big Buck’s after the World Hurdle. No one likes it when top horses are no longer running at their best and it was the right time.

    He’s been an absolute superstar and I was lucky enough to ride him in a race once. He’s a very, very good horse and he will have the happy retirement that he deserves.

    Looking ahead to Aintree

    Now it becomes all about Aintree. I’m really excited to be riding Teaforthree in the Grand National. I rode him last week in the Gold Cup, which was a perfect preparation race for him.

    We finished 3rd in last year’s Grand National and he’s the current favourite for this year’s race. I’m very lucky to have such an opportunity.

    Enjoy your weekends with your horses, whatever you’re up to.


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