David Mullins: Why Chacun Pour Soi is Made for Cheltenham
It's been a fairly hectic 12 months in horse racing, and there has been a few changes for me as well to say the very least.
A few months back I walked away from the saddle so to speak and I'm not missing being in it. I'm still very happy with my decision as racing is a game that you have to be one hundred per cent committed to and I simply couldn't do that anymore. When you have success people in racing simply cannot understand why you would have any notion to quit, but I just want time to see what else life has to offer.
I've loved having a few months to just look around at everything, and show jumping at the moment is something I'm very interested in exploring. My mother's side of the family is big into the show jumping world, as is my girlfriend, so it's definitely worth a look. It's all about time, I was never able to fully commit to the sales as finding enough hours to do what I needed to do with a young horse was always difficult as it never ends when you are riding at the track every day!
One element of being a jockey I will definitely not miss is waiting around this week to try and find out what I might be riding at Cheltenham. It was torturous, there was never anything you could do to find out what you might ride, there was nothing you could really do to get on a better horse and you were just waiting around. There's an insecurity in the job that can be very hard to take.
It's mad to think it's been twelve months since Cheltenham, and thankfully the general public shouldn't have the same contempt for the festival as they did a year ago.
Looking back, crowds probably shouldn't have been allowed in, but how could anyone have seen what was coming? We didn't know anything about the virus at that stage and the official advice for everyone was that it was ok to travel.
My father didn't go last year, so I stayed in a house with my girlfriend and my mother down the road from the racecourse, and we just weren't aware about what was happening back home.
After the few days we went back to Ireland, and it was like we had leprosy - the public didn't want us racing people to come home at all! It wasn't fair as anybody who went could not be blamed for not foreseeing what has happened since, as I've already said.
I think there will be positives though. By us all not being able to go this season I'd say next year will be amazingly busy and it will be even better again. People will be very hungry to get out and about so there could even be a knock on effect for local racecourses too. I think a few of the evening meetings at Wexford or somewhere in the summer could become very busy as a result.
I know Cheltenham is huge and that's an understatement as whenever you hear of a young horse people say this is a "Supreme horse" or an "Albert Bartlett horse", they don't even need to mention what distance the horse might run over. Saying that though, Cheltenham was never a racecourse I really enjoyed as I suppose I just never had my big day there.
I was second twice in the Ryanair, I was second on Monalee in the Albert Bartlett and I was second in the County Hurdle twice as well. It just never fell right for me and I think like anything you only ever get a real feel for something when you win.
To be honest I found it a fairly moderate track to ride around. It's very trappy and I always found it very hard to get into a proper rhytm as it's down the hill and up to a fence etc. I always found it very difficult to get a horse flowing there, and I just didn't enjoy it. As I said though, I just never had that winning feeling at Cheltenham, or really I never even thought I was going to win there as I never jumped the last on the bridle etc.
I should've enjoyed it more as it was a track you could gain advantages at, a proper jockey should be able to do well there as it is a difficult course to ride around and you can steal lengths at different parts of the course, but I probably just didn't have the horses. I remember saying to Barry Geraghty once "Jesus I hate this place" and he just said back to me "wait until you're on a proper one, they'll take you everywhere and do everything for you".
That just never happened for me.
Reaction To Gordon Elliot
This has been covered half to death by this stage, but it has to be touched on after everything. I have been asked a few times on different shows etc, and my first reaction throughout has been wondering how Gordon is. I know what he did was wrong, but the world seemed to really turn against him.
The thing is that I actually know the man, he's brilliant and I owe him a lot. My career wouldn't have been as successful without him and that's a fact. He gave me one of my early wins on Tycoon Prince in a bumper at Fairyhouse when I was 18 and he helped me to get going. That one crazy moment doesn't tell the story, and it most certainly doesn't sum up how he treats horses.
The fact is that unhappy horses do not win races, it's impossible, and Gordon has had a massive amount of success as we all know. If that picture was a true reflection of him he wouldn't have any winners, or owners, or staff.
He has received his punishment for it, he deserves that punishment, but we shouldn't base everything we know about him on that alone.
The Ban On Amateur Jockeys
Of course I really feel for amateur jockeys as it's really disappointing for them, and if I was one of them I'd be angry too.
It's just I understand the decision too. Something had to give, and in a serious pandemic like this, when amateur sports are not allowed to continue, I understand why the BHA couldn't allow this to happen, especially after the negative PR last year.
The problem is that the Irish Amateurs are basically professional and are as good as any jockey out there really, but a lot of their UK counterparts are only part-time and don't do it for a living, so of course that's a risk for everyone concerned, even though I do think it would've been safe.
Possibly in the future they could find a different name for some of the amateur jockeys who are professional in nature so this wouldn't happen again, but as I said I do understand this decision. It's a black and white decision really when you look at it, something had to give.
2021 Cheltenham Festival Thoughts
Of course I'll have tips here every day, but I've a few early thoughts on the big races.
I just don't see Honeysuckle beaten, and I think Rachel Blackmore will be very sweet on her chances going into this. It was incredible how confident Rachael Blackmore was to let her go at the third last hurdle at Leopardstown in the Irish Champion Hurdle, six furlongs out. That took some bottle and the mare didn't let her down.
It's an amazing feeling when you have such trust in one under you, I remember having it with Faugheen and you just know jumping the last hurdle that the only horse that could beat you is Hurricane Fly or Arkle.
In the Champion Chase I don't have any worries about Chacun Pour Soi. He's a little bunny in that he will fit through any gap on the day, and he travels and jumps so well. I think he's made for the place.
Cheltenham can catch out horses as everything changes around the track constantly, in the Champion Chase for example the first 2 fences are downhill and you're flat to the boards, you then have to turn so quickly and you can be sucked in under the sixth fence at the water. It's very tricky for a horse, but none of this will bother Chacun Pour Soi though in my opinion, he's made for the place.
In the Gold Cup I don't see Al Boum Photo beaten, despite respecting A Plus Tard's chances. I just don't see why there isn't more of a buzz about him to be honest as going for a third straight Gold Cup is amazing. I know his campaigns are light, but it's not like he hasn't produced a few stories!
He broke Ruby's leg, he ran out with Paul at Punchestown and now he's a dual Gold Cup winner! I hope he gets the respect he deserves now.
To finish up with I'll give you a few to follow. For those of you into combinations, I'd say you won't go far wrong with a treble on Chacun Pour Soi, Concertista and Monkfish. For those of you who like one at a bigger price I really like Hollow Games and think 12/1 in the bumper is far too big!
Stay In The Loop With Free Bets, Insider Tips & More!
Live Betting. Sports Promos. Sent Weekly.