There was a surreal feel about the whole thing, a feeling that grew stronger as the week progressed. Like, what does it matter what horse wins what race when there is a wider threat? Schools closed in Ireland, sports stopped and social gatherings curtailed, and yet over 60,000 people gathered together in the Cotswolds each day. It is probable that we will look back on the 2020 Cheltenham Festival in the very near future and think, how was that allowed to happen? WE know that it’s a game of highs and lows for jockeys. It’s true what they say: don’t be getting above yourself when things go well, and don’t be getting too down when they’re going badly. The next high/low (delete as appropriate) probably isn’t too far away.
Rachael Blackmore experienced both on the first day. Travelling well on Captain Guinness in the opening race, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, when, wham, from left-field (literally) she is taken out of it. Then the disappointment of Notebook, favourite for the Arkle, and the mixed emotions of the race being won by a mare that you could have ridden (in theory anyway, although you were never really going to get off Notebook).