For a jockey, Cheltenham is full of disappointments. There’s more disappointment than there is success around the place.
When you come home after being to Cheltenham, disappointed with how the week went, you analyse and think about what you did, then you start to realise, you know what, I didn’t do that right and why didn’t I do that right?
So you are analysing and analysing it. For me, it came down to riding the occasion instead of the right.
To deal with the pressure, the build-up, the whole thing, if I could keep a lid on it and break it down simply that the Supreme is a two-mile novice hurdle, take the title off of it, who cares about it? The title only matters after the race.
There’s pressure too in your normal life – it seeps in.
I was normally a very, very good sleeper but come Cheltenham time of the year instead of waking up at 6.30, I’d be waking up at 5.45am. You definitely would feel the pressure coming a little bit.
But you were thinking about so much. You had so many races to ponder, so many equations to sort out, trying to figure which horses would run in which races, course there is pressure to it.
But I think, with anything in life, if there’s no pressure, if there’s no build-up, there’s no sense of achievement when it goes right.
Pressure is a good thing but by the time Cheltenham actually came round when you walked out the weighing room to ride the first horse, the pressure was all gone.
Whatever was going to be then was going to be. You’d done the homework, you knew everything about every horse – or at least you should have – and that was that.
The build-up there was definitely pressure in it – big time.