Cheltenham Chat: Wigan goalkeeper Jamie Jones talks the Festival

Jamie Jones

Keeper chats Gold Cup and everything racing

You’ve heard from the experts, the tipsters, the jockeys and trainers ahead of the Cheltenham Festival, but how about a horse racing-mad professional footballer?

We sat down with Wigan Athletic goalkeeper and avid racing fan Jamie Jones to discuss all things Prestbury Park ahead of the off on Tuesday 12th March.

Coral News: So Jamie, have you been to Cheltenham before?

Jamie Jones: Yeah, I went in 2015 with a few friends. It’s an unbelievable event and it brings so many people together! The roar when the horses set off in the first race gave me huge goosebumps!

CN: Do you or anyone else within the Wigan Athletic squad the squad own a horse?

JJ: I own a horse with a few other people – Horyale he’s called. He hasn’t got a bad record either, although there are too many 2nds in there for my liking.

The Skelton’s train and jock-up the horse for us so we hope the future is a bit brighter where results are concerned.

CN: It’s that classic question, flat or jumps racing – which do you prefer?

JJ: I personally prefer jumps. I feel like I ride the jumps with them as they approach the last few fences if I’ve backed one!

CN: If you had your own horse, what would you call it?

JJ: I would call it “some horse” for the commentary down the last furlong. “And here comes some horse” at the end would be priceless.

CN: Looking ahead to Cheltenham, what’s your favourite Festival memory?

JJ: Annie Power fluffing it at the last fence when the whole country apart from me had it for thousands!

A few lads in the squad had the four-fold on the day’s favourites and to see it fall will always stick with me!

CN: Looking ahead to this year’s Festival, how do you pick your horse?

JJ: I tend to look at the past form and conditions of its previous win.

CN: And have you got a hot tip for us?

JJ: I haven’t, but ask the old chairman David Sharpe, he’s come in with a few lovely winners!

Even his own horse, Chosen Mate, who runs in Wigan colours, is one to look out for! It recently won a Grade 2 race and is destined for the top.

CN: Is there anyone among the squad who thinks themselves as a bit of a tipster?

JJ: Callum McManaman certainly knows what he’s talking about!

Not long ago after a training session we went to Starbucks and he had a lovely treble on the nose that came in. I backed all the same horses individually so was made up winning three in the spin.

CN: Who do you fancy for the Gold Cup?

JJ: I wouldn’t say it’s a hot tip but I fancy Native River to do the double! His fight last year with Might Bite was amazing and I can see him having a go again this time around.

CN: What do you enjoy most about racing?

JJ: Having the horse you’ve backed in with a chance of winning with a few furlongs to go! Shouting it home is the best feeling. Even if it doesn’t always win, you want it there or thereabouts.

CN: Finally, who do you reckon has it tougher? Footballers or jockeys?

JJ: Jockeys – but only just. The pressure of having to win races to get paid is a lot in itself, plus the fact they are risking everything on each and every race.

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