BBC SPORT Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC Sport
 You are in: Other Sports: Horse Racing: Cheltenham Festival  
Sport Front Page
-------------------
Football
Cricket
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Tennis
Golf
Motorsport
Boxing
Athletics
Other Sports
Statistics
US Sport
Horse Racing
Snooker
Sailing
Cycling
Skiing
-------------------
Special Events
-------------------
Sports Talk
-------------------
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
-------------------
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
-------------------
Around The UK: 
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS

  Friday, 15 March, 2002, 11:05 GMT
Culloty comes of age
Jim Culloty rides Best Mate to victory in the Gold Cup
Culloty broke his right arm before Christmas
BBC Sport Online's Sophie Brown profiles Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey Jim Culloty.

Winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup is probably at the top of every jump jockey's wish list.

And for Jim Culloty, victorious on Best Mate at this year's Festival meeting, delight will be mixed with a huge dollop of satisfaction.

At the last Festival meeting, the 28-year-old Irishman was criticised after Best Mate was defeated by Sausalito Bay in the Supreme Novices Hurdle.

He then had to watch champion jockey Tony McCoy give Edredon Bleu - a horse that Culloty perhaps should have been on - one of the greatest rides in Cheltenham history to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase.


I went out there knowing my horse was good enough, as long as I didn't cock it up
Jim Culloty
Although Culloty is Henrietta Knight's stable jockey, owner Jim Lewis (who also owns Best Mate) had insisted that McCoy ride Edredon Bleu, at that time the stable star.

To be fair to Lewis, this was more because of the relationship he feels McCoy has with the horse rather than any reflection on Culloty's skills as a rider - and there has never been any question that Culloty would lose the ride on Best Mate.

But there is little doubt that Culloty's horsemanship has improved over the last couple of seasons - and a lot of the credit must go to Knight's husband, Terry Biddlecombe.

Biddlecombe, a three-time former champion jockey, has helped Culloty refine his skills of reading a race and has rammed home the importance of patience.

They were lessons that the jockey put to good use in the masterful ride he gave Best Mate in Thursday's Gold Cup.

He kept the horse in touch throughout, taking the shortest route along the rail.

Jim Culloty celebrates with Best Mate's trainer Henrietta Knight and owner Jim Lewis
Culloty has been racing for Knight for six years
There was a moment of alarm two fences out when it looked as if Best Mate might be boxed in.

But Culloty kept his nerve, eased through to the front and then held off the challenge of Commanche Court.

The jockey, who joined Knight's West Lockinge yard six years ago as an amateur, admitted that he had not felt as calm as he had appeared.

"I was a nervous wreck - I went out there knowing my horse was good enough, as long as I didn't cock it up," he said.

The win comes after what was a frustrating first half of the season for Culloty, who missed several big rides - including Lord Noelie in the Hennessy Gold Cup and Best Mate in the King George at Kempton - after fracturing his right arm before Christmas.

But all that is now forgotten as Culloty's win in Cheltenham's blue riband event - his second Festival success - should finally silence the doubters.

Not that Culloty will have much time to bask in his glory.

After securing jump racing's most prestigious race, he was back in the saddle at Chepstow the following day.

Cheltenham stages its big jump race meeting from 12-14 March

Results and odds

Special features

Clickable guides

Official site
Links to more Cheltenham Festival stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Cheltenham Festival stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales