Thankfully, I’m done with life in the weighing room. Been there, done it, got the t-shirt. Never going back.
But the punters often don’t know what it’s really like in there. How does it differ from a normal meeting? Let me take you through it.
For a start – there’s way more people in the Cheltenham weighing room for those four days in mid-March than at any other meeting.
On a normal Saturday during the season for instance, a jockey might decide to go to a different meeting rather than go for one ride at Cheltenham. Come Festival time, that’s not the case.
A lot of guys there have just one or two rides – so there’s way more bodies hanging around.
It’s absolutely packed.
The place is jammed two hours before the first race. There’s people everywhere. It wouldn’t be like that at other meets, put it that way.
Cheltenham Town is a big enough place too and people are getting on with their own lives in the town. Add Festival week to that mix – and it all leads to extra traffic.
There’s always issues getting in and out of the racecourse so every jockey gets to the track early.
That’s why I always liked to stay as close as I could to the racecourse.
There was no chance I would get in a taxi.
There was a bigger influx of Irish riders too – but that suited me. I found myself sitting in an alcove with them to try and get a bit of peace and quiet as you’ve got the extra nerves and tension to deal with.
The extra camera crews and whoever else is swanning around – it all adds up. It’s a hive of activity but it can be a little too ‘buzzy’ at times.
What did I do when I wasn’t riding? Did I just sit down reading the Racing Post?
Well, no. Any jockey worth their salt should know everything they needed to know by then. They should know what was likely to happen in a race like the back of their hand.
At the Cheltenham Festival – you shouldn’t even need the racecard.
You should have all your homework done so your mind is crystal clear on what you have to do when the tapes fly up.