There’s just two weeks left to the start of the Cheltenham Festival and, yes, I’ve still a massive decision to make about whether I’ll ride ante-post favourite Faugheen or former dual champion Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle.
If I pick the wrong one it will be a sickener – and that’s my biggest fear at the moment. I’d sooner be second to The New One (or whoever) than get it wrong between Hurricane Fly and Faugheen.
If I pick the right one and it gets beaten it’ll be disappointing enough. If you pick the wrong one and finish third and the other finishes second that doesn’t matter – you weren’t going to win anyway.
But it’s that moment when you pass the post and know you could have ridden the winner that is agony. That disappointment in yourself as a professional for getting it wrong.
It happened to me before in 2008 when I was first jockey to Paul Nicholls. Denman beat Kauto Star (below) in an epic Gold Cup tussle.
It wasn’t that I’d lost out on the glory or the prestige of the Gold Cup to Sam Thomas or anything – it was that I’d picked the wrong one (Kauto Star) when I had the choice.
This year’s Champion Hurdle is as close as I’ve come to a decision like that – and I just hope I get it right.
In time, of course, the disappointment passes because you’re part of a team and the stable has won. But for that half hour or so after the result and maybe a little longer … it’s agony.
That’s why I’m leaving my Champion Hurdle decision until as late as possible.