Dominic Elsworth and Mister McGoldrick sprung one of the biggest shocks in the history of The Festival when running away with what is now the Byrne Group Plate in 2008 at odds of 66/1, giving the rider and trainer Sue Smith their first taste of Festival success.

Reflecting on that victory, Elsworth said: “It was a very special day, he absolutely sluiced up. The rain came at the right time for a horse who wanted soft ground and I was delighted with him.”

Despite his odds, Mister McGoldrick was a multiple Grade Two winner and, after tracking the leaders throughout the race, took up the running at the 10th fence and powered clear of his rivals to win by 13 lengths.

Elsworth added: “I never get confident throughout any race and especially at Cheltenham where you have to ride every race individually.

“Obviously, at Cheltenham there is a lot of hype beforehand but, once you’re on the horse’s back, you just have to get on and do your job. Once you get over the last, that’s when the emotions start. But once you’ve passed the winning line is when it really counts, because anything can happen between the start and the finish.

“I was delighted to ride a winner for Richard Longley (Mister McGoldrick’s owner) – he has been very good to me. It was special riding a horse I had grown up with and gained experience with because I had always had a good association with the horse – it was just very special.”

The 32-year-old suffered a horrific fall at Ffos Las in August, 2009, which sidelined him for 14 months, but he returned with a bang, winning on Edgbriar at Cheltenham on his first ride back in October, 2010.

He has also had two other high-profile successes at the track on Calgary Bay and, with a level stake profit of £49 at Cheltenham over the past five seasons, Elsworth admits he likes the course.

Elsworth continued: “I do enjoy riding at Cheltenham; I think everyone does, but it is a challenge and you need a horse that can travel and jump at speed.”

He is now looking forward to partnering Somersby for Henrietta Knight at The Festival, and the partnership between trainer and jockey has flourished this season with big-race victories at Ascot, Cheltenham and Doncaster.

Elsworth concluded: “I would think the Ryanair Chase will be the race for Somersby and it would be special to ride a winner at The Festival for Henrietta Knight as she gave me a lot of big chances early on in my career.

“She has a great affinity with Cheltenham obviously with Best Mate. Somersby was my first Grade One winner and her first since Best Mate, so it was quite a poignant day when I won at Ascot in the Victor Chandler Chase in January.”
  

GUIDE TO THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2012 – CLICK HERE

What to read next on Eclipse Magazine