The trainer bagged his first Cheltenham winner before the lockdown. Catherine Austen discovers his unique prep and how he’s reliving the memories
It’s 10 days after the Cheltenham Festival. Lockdown has been in place for 24 hours when H&H catches up with Harry Whittington. The “pause” button has been pressed, and all action is frozen.
But the trainer’s head is still in the clouds and the cheers are ringing in his ears. He took three horses to Cheltenham, and all three made it into the winner’s enclosure. The first, Rouge Vif, finished third in the Arkle on Tuesday. Then, on Thursday, Saint Calvados was second – by a neck – in the Ryanair, and just over an hour later Simply The Betts won the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, giving Harry and his team that so-significant first Festival victory.
“It was amazing; we were incredibly lucky the horses showed what we can do,” says Harry. “It was a big sigh of relief the first one had got into the frame and finished third. After that, we thought we could try to enjoy the rest of the week. The team WhatsApp group was buzzing; we were all bouncing off each other like, ‘Right, come on, two to go!’ It just takes a bit of the pressure off.”