Katie Walsh says that riding a winner at the Cheltenham Festival is unquestionably the pinnacle of a jump jockey’s career.
Walsh rode her first National Hunt winner back in 2003, but had to wait another seven years before finally getting off the mark at the Festival.
She broke her duck aboard Poker De Sivola in the National Hunt Chase, driving the horse home to beat Becauseicouldntsee by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
Walsh secured her second Festival victory later the same week as she booted Thousand Stars to victory in the County Hurdle.
In an interview with Betway ahead of this year’s Festival, the former jockey says that riding a winner at Cheltenham is an unbelievable feeling.
“When you rider a winner here, you’re usually the last horse to come back down,” said Walsh.
“It is the greatest parade ring to come back into for a reception. What they’ve done with it – there is no feeling like it.”
Walsh had to wait until 2018 to ride her third winner at the Festival, roaring home up the Cheltenham hill to claim the Champion Bumper on Relegate.
The pair won the race by a neck from Carefully Selected and Danny Mullins, with Tornado Flyer under Paul Townend back in third.
Relegate had struggled to keep pace with the front-runners for most of the race, but as soon as she hit the rising ground she flew past her rivals.
With the Festival attracting huge crowds every year, Walsh says that the journey back into the winners’ enclosure at Cheltenham is one that jockeys cherish forever.
“They have the hospitality on the right-hand side,” she added. “There’s people hanging out over the balcony saying ‘well done’ – it’s just a very special feeling.”