MY first Cheltenham success came aboard the aptly named Character Building. I had been going to Cheltenham for a few years previous without much luck, but was very grateful to be riding at what most people would consider to be the Olympics of our sport.
Character Building was trained by John Quinn and part-owned by Luke McMahon. It was great to have a Festival ride for such a prominent Irish owner.
He wasn’t fancied in the betting as a 16/1 shot, but the team fancied him and fair play to them, they had him primed for the day.
The horse was a hold-up ride, so I knew I couldn’t get there too soon. All went to plan. I dropped him out and he switched off, so I was happy enough in the early stages of the race. Turning in I couldn’t believe how well he was travelling. Jumping the last, I knew I had plenty of horse under me and, in fairness to the horse, he bolted up in the end.
To cross the line in front at Cheltenham, on the biggest stage of National Hunt racing, is an amazing feeling. Like any jockey it’s something I’d have been dreaming of since I was only a young lad.
The roar I let out crossing the line would deafen you! The pull-up area is very special, it gives you a chance to settle yourself and let it sink in. You’ve got that 30 seconds to yourself.
The walk back in is electric, Irish flags are flying, lads roaring and, for those few minutes, there literally is no better place to be.
A Cheltenham winner is magical. I probably didn’t appreciate it as it was all a bit of a blur, but I’ve being lucky enough to visit the winner’s enclosure several times since and it’s a great feeling.
Jamie Codd was in conversation with Katie Gorman