Dunwoody still focused after all these years

 

Racing: It may be 10 years since Richard Dunwoody won his sole Cheltenham Gold Cup but cliches about him wanting it more now because he didn't relish it enough then are for the birds.

"Sure it's a long time since I won the Gold Cup but I definitely appreciated it the last time. Anyway it's not something I'm thinking about. I'm just focusing on doing the job. What happens afterwards happens," he says in that quietly deliberate way.

The job is winning today's Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup on Dorans Pride and Dunwoody's approach to it is partly why he is in the hot seat in the first place. Away from the track, Dunwoody (34) is an engagingly affable figure. On it, he is deadly serious.

The kind of approach that Dorans Pride's trainer Michael Hourigan appreciates. Hourigan has spent a year getting his horse to a peak for this day. It's comforting that the jockey on the horse's back for 10 minutes has his priorities straight too.

The wonder of Dunwoody though is that his priorities are still so straight 10 years on. When Charter Party powered clear of Cavvies Clown and Beau Ranger in 1988, the two placed horses were ridden by Simon Sherwood and Peter Scudamore, two wonderful jockeys but both long since retired to the fence. Dunwoody though is still there.

Still focused, still doing the right things, still wanting it. "He really is a great professional. A fantastic jockey, a brilliant horseman but also a great professional," says Hourigan. That wealth of experience provides the supporters of Dorans Pride with encouragement for today.

Apart from also being placed on Charter Party in 1989, Dunwoody has been in the frame in the Gold Cup on Rushing Wild and Desert Orchid as well as having prominent rides on the likes of One Man.

The comparisons he makes between them and Dorans Pride are favourable. "Charter Party had lots of talent but also lots of training problems. I thought he didn't really reach his full potential but I would still rate Dorans Pride ahead of him. I remember having a wonderful ride on Rushing Wild who finished second to Jodami but Dorans Pride compares favourably to him too.

A horse has to have class to win a Gold Cup but equally importantly they have to stay. It is a three and a quarter mile race after all and I think Dorans Pride has no stamina worries," Dunwoody says.

Such an elevated opinion could have been diluted by Dorans Pride's still unexplained flop at Naas last January but now the memory is full of last month's Hennessy Gold Cup when the real Dorans Pride stood up to be counted.

"Naas left its mark in the first half of that race in terms of confidence but afterwards he couldn't have done it any better. Michael Hourigan says the horse is better now and I'm sure he is," Dunwoody adds. In a race where every advantage will count, a not inconsiderable plus for Dorans Pride is his adaptability through a race.

"It does take him a little time to warm into his jumping but he is basically sound," considers Dunwoody. "Ideally, I'll let them get on with it and I'll ride my own race. They will have to make use of Cyborgo and I imagine two or three others will be up there too. See More Business will be dropped out and I'll probably give my fellow a chance. See More Business looks the main danger based on his last race and the form he showed in the King George."

The facts about Dorans Pride and See More Business are that the Irish horse has beaten him the two times they've met. Hourigan believes See More Business has improved this season but nobody is presuming that Dorans Pride has stood still either.

Hourigan's consolation when the tape is released is that there is no better jockey to get that job done.