Any time you can ride a winner at Cheltenham is great, but to have ridden three on the same day is special. I also live nearby and, although the Festival is more high-profile, The November Meeting is a big one in the jump season.
I always knew my best rides were on Friday, 16 November. I was going there hoping to have a winner, but to have three was something that I never thought was possible.
I thought that Bun Doran would run well fresh; he had been trained for the race and had done a good piece of work at home, so I was feeling the pressure on him a little bit. With the other two, I was really just hoping for a good run.
Red Hot Chilly was a 33/1 chance and Coolanly was coming into his race on the back of a bad fall in the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow, where we had held high hopes for him. It all just came together. Coolanly is a very good horse — an old-fashioned type, who will be a lovely chaser one day going up in trip.
A good crowd
It was a brilliant meeting for many reasons. When it rains, as it often has in the past, it does put people off, especially the locals. But the weather was good — it brought everyone out and there was such a good crowd.
Any trainer I ride for, I always try to encourage them to have a go at Cheltenham. Yes, sometimes their horse might not be good enough, but if you’re not in it, you cannot win, and there’s such a lovely feeling about the place always.
It was great to have ridden winners for two of my big supporters, Fergal O’Brien and Tom George. It’s local for them, too, and will have given their owners a great day out.
There’s also the Irish aspect. They are getting back into a much better financial position and it’s great to see them all coming across. My mother came over for the weekend but she arrived on the Thursday — she wouldn’t have been able to get a flight on the Friday as there were so many Irish people coming over for the racing!
‘The real deal’
I was back at the track for the following two days, hoping that another win might be on the cards but it was more bits and bobs. Boyhood was having his first run for a long time in the Listed hurdle on Saturday and ran really well. Then Mrs Hyde looked as if she was going to win the mares’ bumper turning in but she didn’t quite come home and was fourth. I only had one ride on the Sunday, so I couldn’t hope for too much more.
I saw the Arkle Trial from the weighing room and I must say that watching Kayley Woollacott’s horse, Lalor, blew me away. He was really impressive and Richard Johnson gave him a beautiful ride — he nursed him everywhere and then showed him off at the end. You dream of coming across a horse like him, he looks the real deal.
Jamie Moore, who steered Baron Alco to Gold Cup glory, is probably the most-liked person in the weighing room, I would say. All the Moore family are lovely people and Jamie is a grafter — he was in Newcastle for just one ride on the Friday and he lives near Gatwick — but that’s just him. He’s such a hard worker.
Ref Horse & Hound; 22 November 2018