The Cheltenham crowd is one of the most special in racing anywhere in the world.
There’s a grand old spirit about the Festival and the roars and cheers can have a huge impact on the race – and give you a big clue about what’s going on behind you.
I still remember the noise and the roar at Cheltenham the first time Kauto Star won the Gold Cup there as a short-price favourite back in 2007.
You have to remember there’s a huge sporting crowd at Cheltenham. Every horse whether it’s a winner, loser or even a faller would get a reception when they trot back in front of the masses.
It’s wonderful to see.
When I won the Champion Bumper on Briar Hill in 2013 despite him being an Irish winner at 25/1, he didn’t get much of a reception – he walked back down and was clapped in, but it was nothing like the volume and excitement of riding a short-priced winner in the Supreme.
That would get some reception. The Gold Cup too. The feature races get the really special receptions.
You don’t really know the noise is coming – because if you do you’re not concentrating on what you should be doing, which is riding the horse!
You can feel that buzz in the stands a little as you turn to the countryside up the back.
Then the sound level starts to drop and it goes into complete silence as you ride Cleeve Hill up to the highest part of the track before coming back down the hill.
As you run down you can just sense a din of noise rather than really celebration for an individual horse.
But as you get closer and closer you can tell how far in front you are and if there’s a horse coming up behind you by the noise the crowd is making. You can ride off the noise.