Retired National Hunt jockey Robbie Power has revealed what it is like to win the famous Gold Cup event at Cheltenham.
Power won the race in 2017 aboard Sizing John. He describes it as the biggest win of his career and talks through that win and what jockeys need to do to ensure they have a great chance at Prestbury Park glory.
The first two fences in the Gold Cup are absolutely crucial
"The Gold Cup is the one race where there isn’t a whole lot of chatting going on, everyone is really focussed on what they want to do and keeping their mind on the job," said Power to Cheltenham 2023
"Everyone is happy after two fences because you have to accept your position. Those first two fences in the Gold Cup are very important as they come up very quickly, you need to get out of the gate quickly.
"It is much easier to go back in positions at Cheltenham than it is trying to chase your tail and catch up. The start is massive in the race."
The Gold Cup gallop is relentless
"You can still find a way through but in the Gold Cup, that race is always run at a tempo that no other race is run at. You go two-mile speed over the first few fences and that gallop is more or less retained for three-and-a-quarter miles.
"There is absolutely no let up. If you miss your position over the first two fences then you are chasing your tail. I always feel in a Gold Cup that you jump to get into a nice position, then keep your horse jumping and travelling because it is a long, long way around."
You need a horse with plenty of pace and a high cruising speed to win a Gold Cup
"Any Gold Cup can be different from the other. You can have a Gold Cup where it is completely attritional and stamina dependent, then you can have others where you don’t go that quick so it suits a speedier type of horse.
"In general, you need a horse that has plenty of pace, a high cruising speed that can jump well and travel just behind the pace.
"The one thing we didn’t know with Sizing John was if he would stay the trip. I always knew that he would, but you have to put that out of your mind and say to yourself that he can stay the trip. If he doesn’t then he doesn’t. That was the attitude I had and thankfully he saw it out really well.
"It can be race over if you stumble, there is so much quality in a Gold Cup, the best horses in racing run in the Gold Cup. If you make a mistake or two then there will always be someone to take advantage.
"In a Gold Cup they are all so closely matched that if one makes a blunder, one can take his position straight away."
Sizing John wins the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power - a first win in the race for both of them! pic.twitter.com/xa7c50TAy5
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) March 17, 2017
You need a good jumper, too - or you won’t get away with it
"I travelled well coming down the hill, I had Ruby Walsh in front of me on Jackadam and Richard Johnson on Native River on my inside. I was happy but I needed to wait as long as I could because I knew that Sizing John was quicker than the two of them.
"Ruby made a mistake at the second last, I winged it and ended up in front and then there was no looking back. He jumped the last big and bold, he had plenty left in the tank.
"You need a good jumper. You don't win a Gold Cup with a bad one, the fences are too thick and fast, you can’t get away with that."
The Gold Cup starts at 3:30