I was first offered the ride on Cue Card a year before I actually got to sit on him in a race.
Bob Bishop approached me in 2014 and asked me to partner the horse, but I had to turn down the offer as I wasn’t in a position to commit to the ride 100 per cent.
Thank god, he came back to me a year later, as I was then able to say yes!
I first rode him when we won the Charlie Hall in 2015 and then he went on to beat Silviniaco Conti on the bridle in the Betfair Chase. A phenomenal performance. I remember pulling up at Haydock and saying to myself: “This horse will win the Gold Cup.”
That, to me, was just as good and as memorable a performance as his subsequent defeat of Vautour in the King George, but of course we then had that fall in the Gold Cup.
It was my lowest moment as a jockey. He was the best horse I have ridden not to win a Gold Cup, and I was just as gutted for his owners and connections, as myself.
I just wanted to disappear.
But the thing that separated this horse from the rest, aside from his longevity, was his ability to bounce back, and to do so in a very short space of time.
He went to Aintree less than three weeks after that Cheltenham fall, and destroyed Don Poli in the Bowl. And that was another hallmark of the horse. His ability to prove the doubters wrong.
That was again in evidence at Ascot this season, as well as underlining the tremendous training skills of Colin Tizzard. His second there wasn’t his best performance, but it was right up there.
Yes, there were plenty of disappointments along the way but you will take those all day long when you look at what success and joy he gave to me and others.
It was a privilege to be associated with such a legend of a horse, and one I genuinely love to bits.
Lastly, I would like to thank the late Bob Bishop, and his wife Jean, for the opportunity to ride the horse. And the whole Tizzard team for how they looked after him down the years. I’m truly grateful.
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