Rachael Blackmore on winning the Gold Cup and the Cheltenham experience

Rachael Blackmore on winning the Gold Cup and the Cheltenham experience

Today the famous Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup takes place/

This race everyone wants to win as a horse trainer, jockey, or punter.

One person who has won the Gold Cup is Killenaule native Rachael Blackmore.

Blackmore made history last year on A Plus Tard with trainer Henry De Bromhead.

This year A Plus Tard, Blackmore, and De Bromhead will aim to retain their crown

The 33-year-old jockey Blackmore has sat down with Betfair, to go over what is like to win the famous racing event.

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 18: Rachael Blackmore on A Plus Tard celebrates winning The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase race during day four of the Cheltenham Festival 2022 at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 18, 2022 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Winning the Gold Cup"The Gold Cup is what the whole week at Cheltenham builds up towards, it's the biggest race of the week and a race that every jockey would love to win. Finishing second in it the year before, you think that could be the closest you ever get to a win in the Gold Cup.

"But to actually achieve it last year and be lucky enough to say I have now won the race will be a feeling I will never forget.

"I think it is what the whole year builds up towards and it really is the pinnacle of our year. It is an extremely special place to ride a winner."

Pressure at Cheltenham

"There is so much expectation going into a week like this but I think it is pressure that you want.

"I want to feel it going into next week because that, in turn, means I have got some very good rides next week. It is pressure but it is, strangely, pressure that you crave and that you want. It just means that you are going to Cheltenham with some good rides.

"I don't know, everyone has different ways of managing it but you just have to be thankful that it is there and get on with it."

Coming up the Cheltenham Hill"In the Gold Cup for example, you are so focussed on what is going on in the race so you actually can't hear the sound of the crowd as much as you think you might."

"When you cross the line, it's like all of a sudden - when A Plus Tard did it for example - you let all of the external elements in and you are just flooded with this immense noise. It is incredible."

"It's strange but sometimes you can hear the commentator over the crowd and that can actually help you as a rider. Like, if you land over the last, then the tone of the commentator can help you figure out if a horse is closing on you or if you're a good bit in front.

"But the minute you cross that line, it is like someone just hits the volume switch and turns it right up."

Position at the start of the race

"I was happy with where I lined up, jumped the first and I slotted in behind. You can almost breathe a sigh of relief when you are in a position that you want to be in.

"You’re on the wheel of it all week and it does build up to this race, this is what the whole week of Cheltenham is about. You’re so focused on what's going on that you're not thinking of anything else.

"You're looking at the other horses around you, you’re watching where they are. Al Boum Photo and Minella Indo, two of the big dangers in the race, were in my sights and Galvin was just to my left, so I was really happy with where I was.

The crowd and Cheltenham and hearing the commentator

"You can definitely feel it, it feels like a different atmosphere. You can often hear the commentator over the crowd, especially at the end as you are listening for them. They can often guide you and give you clue as to how the rest of the field is going behind you.

"You get to know their different voices, if there is excitement and speed then a horse could be coming at you whereas if they are in a relaxed tone then you could know that you’re further ahead.

Chat among the jockeys in the Gold Cup

"There’s plenty of chat if you're where somebody else wants to be or if you're falling in on top of someone.

"That’s just Cheltenham in general regardless of Irish or English jockey's. Everyone is there with horses they believe can win and are racing in that frame of mind.

Jumping the last fences

"I’m still happy where I am here. Following Minella Indo down, we get a good jump at this, I remember landing and giving him a slap down the shoulder and then standing back up and thinking ‘This is where I want to be’. I just have to wait here for it to open up, I don't want to pull too wide and go around the two in front me, I just have to wait.

"I wanted to be following Minella Indo down over these two fences rather than upsides them as I was the year before.

"In between the last and the second last, I know I am hands and heels, I’m encouraging him but I know he is just going to go but I didn't think in this kind of manner, he absolutely took off after the last.

"That’s just such an incredible feeling. For a horse to do that at the end of a Gold Cup, I just knew when I landed after the last and he accelerated like he did, I knew nothing was going to catch me.

"That’s often a feeling at the end of a race, you're thinking there's a horse going to come, there's more coming, but I just had this feeling inside me that no-one else can be finishing this fast, he was going so fast.

"It was an incredible feeling when you cross the line and you finally let yourself believe what's happening. The noise of the whole place, it gets into your bones, it’s just incredible and an unbelievable feeling.