News My first Cheltenham Festival winner - Luke Harvey

My first Cheltenham Festival winner - Luke Harvey


For some jockeys their first winner at the Cheltenham Festival turns out to be their last and that proved to be exactly the case for Luke Harvey.

Despite enjoying plenty of rides at the meeting, the ITV and At The Races presenter's sole visit to the Festival winner's enclosure arrived 31 years ago when steering the Jim Wilson-trained Taberna Lord to glory in Coral Golden Handicap Hurdle Final.

He said: "I was working for Captain Forster at the time and I remember telling the lads there that I couldn't see him being beaten. He was a super jumper and he would go on any ground. At that time in my career he was by far the best horse I'd ridden.

"Despite it being Cheltenham, I was young and naive and I was not nervous - I was just so confident. He went off favourite as everyone had gambled on him.

"I remember sitting on him going to the start and he was bouncing and on that day he just rose to the big occasion.

"I dropped him out as usual and he was probably last going past the stands with a circuit to run. He made a mistake at the second one going away from the stands.

"He came there cantering at the top of the hill. I was tracking Graham Bradley at the time and he fell at the second last and luckily went right-handed as if he fell straight or the the other way, he would have brought me down.

"He came through to challenge going to the last, jumped that well and away he went.

"I was delighted and as you know I always wear my heart on my sleeve. I was not really shell shocked as I expected it.

"If I knew it would be my last Cheltenham winner, I would have gone crazier. It was just the whole plan came off, but there was nothing devious.

"Going back to the winner's enclosure was fantastic, and on the way back to Lambourn I probably called in about six pubs and ended up in Wantage upside down!.

"That horse had put me on the map. He was just a sweet, gorgeous little horse and he had a lovely character about him.

"It was a really special thing, a massive feather in my cap and it is still something I'm very proud of. He was massive to my career as after that I started getting rides for all sorts of people."