David Casey: Gold Cup miss was disappointing but now the time to move on


The decorated jockey was narrowly beaten to Cheltenham glory by Davy Russell and Lord Windermere in 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2020
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David Casey knows he enjoyed a glittering jumps career alongside Willie Mullins despite his Cheltenham hopes being dashed in 2014


For every high in racing there’s a low just around the corner to bring you crashing back down - just ask David Casey, writes Will Jennings.

The decorated Waterford-born jockey enjoyed a glittering jumps career, working closely alongside champion trainer Willie Mullins to ride winners at Cheltenham, Gowran Park and Leopardstown.

The evergreen Casey soared to Hennessy Gold Cup glory on Rule Supreme and Kempes in 2005 and 2011, also scooping Thyestes Chase success on three occasions as This Is Serious, Hedgehunter and On His Own were crowned kings of Gowran Park in 2002, 2004 and 2012.

But for many racing fans Casey may be remembered for a moment of Cheltenham controversy, when he was denied Gold Cup hegemony on On His Own in 2014 following a stewards’ enquiry.

Jim Culloty’s Lord Windermere was eventually announced the winner after it was adjudged Mullins’ entry had not been impeded by the eight-year-old at the finish, handing jockey Davy Russell his only Gold Cup victory.

And Casey, who retired from jumps duty in 2015 and now works with Mullins on the yard, has vivid memories of that day.

“I think about that race at Cheltenham every now and again but it’s a long time ago now,” he reflected.

“I was disappointed as it would have obviously been great to win it, but it didn’t happen and if that’s the worst thing to happen to me in my life, then I think I’ll be alright.

“At the time I was just trying to do my best to get up there, and crossing the line I wasn’t sure if I’d done it or not as I obviously had my head down at the end.

“But I knew there was going to be a stewards’ enquiry and I wanted to be focused for it - I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going in with my heart pumping.

“I didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself, and then there was more disappointment when they didn’t overturn the result.

“I do think more about my wins than that day at Cheltenham though – I think we all look back in life and think ‘what if that had happened?’ but you’ll never move forward otherwise.

“You can’t live in the past for too long – it would have been great to win the Gold Cup and maybe it would have made a difference to my life, I don’t know, but I got out in one piece and I had a great retirement.”

 

Casey is acutely aware that race will never define him after a career where he gave Mullins some of his most memorable days as a trainer.

That partnership is now one that has come to fruition in a different sense, with Casey - who now lives in Suncroft, County Kildare - working meticulously with Mullins as he prepares his current crop of stars including Faugheen, Kemboy and Chacun Pour Soi.

And, after working alongside the trainer for almost a quarter of a century, Casey knows all about how the 63-year-old likes to operate.

“I try to help Willie in all the aspects I can – I still ride, I help with the entries and race planning, and I just have a general idea about what’s going on,” he added.

“I think we get on so well because I’ve been around him for so long – I’ve been in and out of racing for a long time, and I just know his routine and the way he likes things done.

 

“He’s always strived to improve so I think that’s been key to his success over the years – he’s always striving to improve his facilities, his horses and just everything about the place.

“He’s still got a great hunger for racing and he’s very good with minor details – he’s always trying to find an edge somewhere so I think that’s really important.”

He may have never won the Gold Cup but Casey is no stranger to Cotswolds hegemony, winning the Grand Annual Chase on Fadoudal Du Cochet in 2002 before galloping to glory with Rule Supreme in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase two years later.

And with the countdown to Cheltenham intensifying, he says he can’t wait to return to the venue and taste that special Festival atmosphere once again.

 

“It’s a huge, brilliant occasion for racing – it’s the best horses, the best trainers and everybody wants to win there,” he said.

“Obviously I wish I’d experienced it a little bit more and at the Gold Cup, but it does give you goosepimples when you experience it.

“There’s about 60,000 people there everyday and the roar and the thrill if you get to walk into the winners’ enclosure on a winner is something I’ll never forget.

“Everybody just loves to win so that’s why I love racing – I think in racing people look out for each other, especially in times of need.

“Everybody stands up for each other, there’s a good community spirit, and hopefully that can continue into the future.”

I was disappointed as it would have obviously been great to win it, but it didn’t happen and if that’s the worst thing to happen to me in my life, then I think I’ll be alright.
- David Casey

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