Paddy Power couldn’t believe it when I told him about the conversations jockeys have during races.
I told him the story of when I was once riding Big Buck’s and my sister Katie was also in the race. He was stunned that we’d been chatting during it and how we were commenting on what each other were doing, and the pace being set.
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Paddy thought it was weird, but it happens all the time. You might try to double bluff other jockeys at times, but at the start of the race you’re not really fooling anyone.
You might say to someone beside you ‘Jeez, we’re flying here aren’t we?’ or ‘He’s going hard’ or ‘Did you see the fall that he got?’.
It’s conversation about what’s going on in the race at that moment. You’d be almost commentating on the action, and someone around you might say something back.
But the further you get into the race, the more you then try to double bluff.
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The other thing that people don’t realise is how quiet it can be when you’re out on the track at Cheltenham. As soon as you turn away from the stands to the first hurdle on the back straight, it’s like someone’s turned the volume off.
Whatever way the wind blows or sound travels – just total silence. It’s weird, and it’s so quiet. As you climb up onto the hill and you can see the huge grandstand and mass volume of people, but you can’t hear a thing.
It’s only when you head back down the hill that it hits you.
One thing that makes Cheltenham different to all other meetings is the sheer numbers of jockeys around. At a normal race meeting, most jockeys will have numerous rides, and there will be less of them at the course.
But at Cheltenham they’ll be guys with only one or two rides, so in terms of sheer numbers there are way more jockeys around.
The place is crowded, noisy and active. There’s a tension in the air but that’s just to do with numbers, I think.
Are the nerves any different to going out riding the favourite in the King George? Probably not.
But at Kempton there might only be 10 or 11 other jockeys in the weighing room so it’s like a ghost town.
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