The Monday Yeeehaaa – The highs and lows from another dramatic Cheltenham Festival and who really starred

CHELTENHAM is over. Heart sinks. But boy what a week. And racing showed just what a fantastic and much loved sport it is.

The haters must have loathed every minute of it!

I appreciate for most of you reading this Cheltenham 2021 was watched on ITV, and I truly hope you enjoyed the experience.

Despite smaller fields and an Irish dominance, the races remain as thrilling as ever and the winners deserve to be heralded.

On track I had the responsibility of doing the winning ITV jockey interviews, something I have never done at a top meeting in Britain before and I loved every bit of it.

You might just think it's a case of shoving a microphone under a rider's nose and letting them sing, but genuinely there's much to think about in what to ask and how to ask it.

When speaking to the winning rider, and of course not all of them might like me, my initial quest was to make the jockeys feel special.

After all they had not been roared home, and had just one a huge race at the Cheltenham Festival.

Then of course you want to learn about how the race went, and also dig as much as possible into a jockey's past should it be relevant.

After that, it's a case of weighing up the pros and cons of getting a quick word with the winning stable lad or lass. And all that has to be done within the region of two minutes.

There's a lot that can go wrong, but I have to thank all the riders for all they said.

I think we got some magical moments, particularly from Richie Condon, Bryan Cooper, Jack Kennedy, Kevin Sexton, Lorcan Williams, Ryan Mania, Nick Schofield and Keith Donoghue.

For many different reasons the Festival was massive for all of them.

And then, of course, there was the inspiration of top notcher Rachael Blackmore and the fabulous words about this great sport from Aidan Coleman after his win on Put the Kettle On in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. I hope they all felt they were special. Because what they achieved is special.

As for the performers, I'm crazy about Monkfish and Appreciate It, and Shishkin is a star. I have said that before mind! Hopefully Honeysuckle will go the Dawn Run route, and Allaho can do anything.

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Of course, it's not long until Aintree now, but the Flat returns with a bang on Saturday with the Lincoln.

Many of the top riders will be abroad, but I can't wait for one of the best handicaps of the season and John Gosden and William Haggas have interesting entries.

Remember Haggas won this with Addeybb who bids for more huge success in Australia this weekend.

I must give a quick shout to Harry Bentley, who has been given a huge chance in Hong Kong where he will ride from April 16.

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I've always been a big fan of Bentley, and hope he gets some success. It won't be easy, but winners out there pay the mortgage quickly?

Finally, farewell to Tom Taaffe, the trainer of Kicking King who has announced his retirement.

I always enjoyed my chats with him and Kicking King was a fabulous horse landing the Gold Cup and two King George VI Chases at Kempton. Have a 'Yeeehaaa' Tom.

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