Richard Johnson: I always had faith I'd win the Gold Cup again
The champion jockey reacts to his win in the big race at Cheltenham aboard Native River, 18 years after his last success on Looks Like Trouble.
I’ve always had a lot of faith in Native River. He ran a great race last year as a seven-year-old and I thought he could come back and improve.
He had a hard season last year and I was saying before the race that if he just produced last year’s form he’d have a great chance.
Colin and Joe Tizzard were very happy with him over the past 10 days or so and that’s all I wanted to hear.
He gave me a lovely spin around Newbury and this race was always the aim. He didn’t have a hard race there and came into this as a fresh horse.
The race panned out just as I hoped. All I wanted to do was get him out there jumping and into a nice rhythm.
About five out I felt I needed to get the race going, as I didn’t want it to turn into a sprint from the second last.
It actually helped me having Might Bite alongside, I wouldn’t have wanted to have gone on by myself then and him get lonely.
I squeezed him down off the bend and to be honest he picked up better than I thought.
I was a bit longer than I planned to be at the fourth last, but he’s a great jumper. If he’s long he’s brilliant, if he’s short he’s brilliant.
He’s really strengthened up this year and the more you ask him the more he gives.
That’s what you need in a Gold Cup – a very good horse but also a very brave horse.
It’s been a difficult week up to now, nothing has really gone right, but this makes up for it - and then some.
The Gold Cup is the race we all want to win. It’s the most important race of the season and I can’t quite believe I’ve just won it.
Eighteen years is a long time. I didn’t know how difficult it was to win a Gold Cup back in those days.
I was young and I’d won the Gold Cup, a Champion Hurdle and a Champion Chase. I didn’t really know what it was all about.
Obviously I now know how hard it is to even get a ride in a Gold Cup, let alone win it.
The Tizzards have done an absolutely brilliant job with this horse.
He’s only eight and he’s now won a Gold Cup, a Welsh National, a Hennessy and two Denman Chases.
Horses like that are very hard to find and we’re all absolutely thrilled.
I just want to make sure I enjoy it because days like these don’t come around too often.