Expert jockey, Nico de Boinville, shares his experience of winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Coneygree.
From the moment the heavens opened on the Thursday night, to the point where we crossed the line in front on the Friday, it was as if everything went our way. I must say that having ridden at the course on the Wednesday I felt that even then the ground was quick enough and I was praying every second for the rain to come.
I rode in the Albert Bartlett the race before the Gold Cup, and my horse struggled desperately with the ground. I knew then that it was going to be truly testing and would play to Coneygree’s strengths.
Fellow jockey, Patrick Mullins, came up to me in the weighing room beforehand to let me know that he was going to push his horse to make it a true test, I replied “well then, I think we may be going very fast in that case!”
The tape went up and we weren’t as quick away as I would have liked. We had to wing the first two fences to establish our place. Once we achieved our front running spot, I was able to use Coneygree’s superior jumping ability to give him breathers. Although it may have looked to the eye that we were going quickly I can assure you that it didn’t quite feel that way. The undulations of the track enabled us to keep taking little pulls here and there, just to fill up his lungs and maintain our advantage.
The first time we turned down the hill Coneygree really picked up the bridle and I thought if he does this again the second time around, then we are in with a major chance.
Thankfully, he did just that so we were able to really increase the pace going to the third from last fence and really make it a war of attrition. Turning in, I was hopeful we would meet the last two fences on the right stride as that would make the difference between winning and losing. We winged two out yet; I could see maybe ten strides away that we would be tight to the last. Luckily Coneygree was very quick over it despite this and still managed to pick his momentum up to power all the way to the line, beating off class horses of the likes of Djakadam and Road to Riches, to cross the line first.
This was without a doubt the best day of my life, and I must take this moment just to thank everyone at Mark Bradstock Racing for allowing me the opportunity to ride Coneygree on such a prestigious and momentous occasion. I hope I have repaid that faith.
Next season could be truly exciting!