I used to have only one thing on the mind when deciding what horse I would ride at Cheltenham: ME!
It’s true that I told Paddy Power after I retired that what I said in public was basically just a bit of a fib.
Publicly I’d come out and say “I’m not sure what I’ll ride in which race, I haven’t decided” well in advance of Cheltenham.
But the fact was that was a load of rubbish, and I did know.
The reason I didn’t want everyone to be aware of that was to try and avoid p***ing off sets of owners who I’d decided to turn down.
I’d know which horse I wanted from a long time out from the Festival – but in case my ride got injured, I wanted to keep other parties sweet in case I needed a ride.
That’s how mercenary it is. I’d always have had a backup. I was looking after Ruby. I was an individual in an individual sport. Who else was I meant to look after?
One of the times I came unstuck was way back in 2008 when I was forced to decide between riding Kauto Star and Denman.
I didn’t make up my mind. I got forced to into making the decision early, I think around six weeks before the race.
The owners wanted an answer and were being pushy.
Unfortunately it was the wrong decision because Denman won… and I was riding Kauto!