My first Cheltenham Festival winner: Paul Holley recalls Oh So Risky

Wed 7 Mar 2018

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By staff

Turning Grade One races at the Cheltenham Festival into a procession is a hard thing to do - but is exactly what Paul Holley achieved aboard Oh So Risky in the 1991 Daily Express Triumph Hurdle.

Sent off a 14-1 chance to bounce back from his disappointment in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow, the David Elsworth-trained gelding showed what a class act he was with a 12-length success, to give Holley the first of his two winners at the showpiece meeting.

Holley said: "He had three runs before. He won two, then he went to Chepstow and disappointed. He did not run from the Finale Hurdle and he went there fresh and well in himself.

"I remember after the run at Chepstow, I said to a cousin of mine he will win the Triumph Hurdle. He just hated everything at Chepstow. He hated the ground and they didn't go much of a pace. I was quite confident coming into the race.

Horse Racing - Coopers & Lybrand Hurdle Race - Ascot Oh So Risky was an emphatic winner of the Triumph Hurdle (PA)

"I was even rehearsing what I was going to say to the television cameras in my head on the drive down!

"They went plenty quick enough and it played to his strengths and he jumped brilliantly going down the back.

"At the top of the hill I thought I was going to win. I had a look round and nothing was going better than him.

"It was just a matter of keeping him going. Jumping the second-last I knew he would win, it was just a case of by how far. He was so economical over his hurdles, it didn't even feel like he left the ground.

"I remember then thinking 'I've had a Cheltenham winner' and it was something you dream of as a kid.

"It was like a dream coming true and I suppose it was like scoring a goal in the FA Cup final. I probably didn't appreciate it as much as I should have done.

"Walking back people were shouting your name that you don't know and you are trying to acknowledge them all.

"Going back now, I would have liked to have taken it more in at the time. I was lucky enough to ride a winner there as there are so many people that don't."

Oh So Risky went on to finish runner-up in the Champion Hurdle the following year, behind Royal Gait at 20-1, and carried on racing until the end of 1998. In total, he won nine of his 56 races.

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