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Taking the Reins: Episode 5 – Cheltenham

| 10.05.2023

The Cheltenham Festival is the holy grail of jump racing and just had to be a focal point for one episode of Coral’s Taking the Reins documentary series.

In part five, we take you behind the scenes of this exhilarating and exhausting four-day extravaganza, as Joe Tizzard and his team go head-to-head with the best in the business.

“Cheltenham is basically our Olympics,” states Joe. “It’s four days of the most competitive racing of the year, where the best take on the best.”

With all the prep work done and plans for a small but select festival team mapped out, Joe adds: “We just don’t need anything silly to go wrong.”

Joe’s father Colin had his share of memorable triumphs at Prestbury Park, including Native River in the 2018 Gold Cup.

Cue Card claimed victory in the Champion Bumper and the Ryanair Chase, Thistlecrack won the World Hurdle and Kilbricken Storm landed the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

With his name now on the racecard, Joe declares: “I was part of it all before, but I want to get my name on there.”

On a more sinister note, stable jockey Brendan Powell touches on the abuse riders receive on social media, including death threats.

Our favourite Episode 5 quotes

Joe: “Cheltenham is more special than anywhere else, it’s as simple as that. People say it’s not all about Cheltenham, but it is!”

Joe: “We strive to try and get as many horses with chances to Cheltenham as we can, and I think it’s our duty to do it for our owners and for our sport and for ourselves.”

Joe: “Part of my job is to believe in my horses and I lie awake at night imagining that if it all goes to plan and the best of them turns up, it gives them a shout.”

Mary-Ann Middleton, owner of Oscar Elite: “He really means everything, actually. It’s funny, my children are grown up now, but I was thinking about when you used to go and watch them at sport – this is much more exciting.”

Owner John Romans: “I’m a bit nervous, but we’re lucky that we’re able to be nervous. It would be the best day of your life to have a Gold Cup winner.”

All six episodes of Taking the Reins have been released on the Coral Racing Club YouTube channel, making it easily accessible and free-to-view.

Coral PR Director and Executive Producer Simon Clare said: “Coral is a horse racing brand through and through and our main aim is to get our customers closer to the action to enhance their passion for the sport.

“Given the huge popularity of fly-on-the-wall sports documentaries, we decided to take the plunge, and with our partners at Equine Productions, embarked on a major project charting the progress of Joe Tizzard’s first season as a racehorse trainer.

“Over a six-month period, focusing on a wide range of compelling stories featuring his racehorses, his owners, his family and his hard-working team, around some of the biggest race meetings in the calendar.

“We hope viewers will find this an entertaining and exciting watch and would like to thank Joe and everyone who participated in the series for their willingness to open their lives and emotions to the cameras.

“The Equine Productions team have done an amazing job but we couldn’t have produced the series without the support of many individuals and bodies within the racing industry to which we are indebted.”

Other episodes

Episode 1 – Chasing Gold
Episode 2 – Second Best
Episode 3 – Frozen Sky
Episode 4 – Another Chance
Episode 6 – The Grand National

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Tony Kelshaw