AHEAD of the Cheltenham Festival, RaceBets ambassador Donald McCain shares his Cheltenham Festival memories where he has tasted victory on 6 occasions.
First Cheltenham Memory?
My first proper memory of Cheltenham was when I led up for Oliver Sherwood in the Triumph Hurdle. I believe he finished about midfield with Simon Sherwood on him, the same day he rode Desert Orchid to win the Gold Cup.
First Cheltenham runner?
Cloudy Lane was my first ever Cheltenham runner in the Kim Muir back in 2007.
First Cheltenham winner?
Also Cloudy Lane, I was very lucky to win at the festival with my first runner. I thought to myself, what’s all the fuss about? This is easy, but I was soon brought back to reality!
What’s it like to have a Cheltenham winner?
At the time when I had my first winner, I remember being asked beforehand if I had any runners and I said, yes Cloudy Lane in the Kim Muir and I said he’d win. I didn’t think it was easy but we mapped out the race for him, thought he’d win and he duly obliged. I probably didn’t take it all in at the time, it’s only afterwards you realise how tough it is to get a winner.
The closest defeat I ever had was with Super Duty in the Kim Muir, with Derek O’Connor in the saddle. He made most of the running and just got beaten by a head on the line.
Race you’d most like to win?
Oh without doubt the Champion Hurdle, I’ve finished second twice in it with Peddlers Cross and Overturn in the past. My favourite horse growing was Sea Pigeon, so that probably explains why I’d like to win it so much.
Worst Cheltenham memory?
I don’t really have a worst memory but I was pretty sick when Peddlers Cross got beaten in the Champion Hurdle. I just remember how hard he tried to beat Hurricane Fly from the back of the last. That was his first time getting beaten and I was in truth, devastated.
Most memorable Cheltenham race?
My most memorable Cheltenham race is probably that Champion Hurdle where Peddlers Cross finished second.
Best chance this year?
I won’t really have many runners this year but of the horses going, the only real chance is probably Mount Mews back over hurdles in the Martin Pipe.
Banker of the festival outside your yard?
The banker for me is Sir Eric in the Triumph Hurdle. Joseph’s horse was very smart on the flat and has looked impressive so far over timber.
Is there any type of race you think is missing from the festival?
I think instead of diluting some of the races, there should be a 2 mile championship hurdle race, a 2 and a half mile championship hurdle race and a 3 mile championship hurdle race. It’s just makes sense to me and I don’t understand why there isn’t.