Chamberlin: Fairytale for Disney
Ed Chamberlin hails the achievements of Guy Disney and those who work behind the scenes in racing in his latest column.
Captain Guy Disney
What a legend Cue Card is. What a thrill it was to be at Ascot on Saturday to see him win yet again.
Tuesday once more demonstrated the egg shells trainers are treading on looking after these magnificent but delicate animals. Thistlecrack's injury is a major blow to a sport that badly needs superstars. It also brings home the remarkable longevity of Cue Card: 35 races, 15 wins, nine Grade Ones and over £1.3million in prize money.
When Cue Card won the Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival Gordon Brown was still Prime Minister. We really must treasure this incredible horse, who now heads back to Prestbury Park where he would surely be the most popular winner of the week.
Stupidly, I doubted him before Saturday's race – I had in my mind that great sportsmen can only go to the well so often. Races 32 and 33 for Cue Card were two more brutal contests at Wetherby and Haydock, after which he looked well below par in the King George.
Could this be the beginning of the end? What a fool I am. Cue Card is 11 years young and was imperious on Saturday. The reception he got all the way from the track to the winner's enclosure will live with me for a long time. National Hunt racing at its finest.
I absolutely loved my debut presenting racing at Ascot. It was the first time ITV's cameras had covered live racing at the track since April 1977 and was a lot of fun as the team explored various parts of this magnificent racecourse. Thankfully I managed to pull off my opening link whilst on one of Ascot's giant escalators. That was pressure.
"When Cue Card won the Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival Gordon Brown was still Prime Minister. We really must treasure this incredible horse, who now heads back to Prestbury Park…"
Chamberlin on Cue Card
Earlier on Saturday morning, Guy Disney was guest on The Opening Show after his incredible win at Sandown the day before. Guy told Oli Bell his story from Afghanistan in 2009 when his leg was blown off and the 18-year-old soldier next to him was killed. He described himself as 'lucky'.
Guy talked of his determination to get back in the saddle, the struggle to get a licence and how sometimes the most motivating words are 'can't' and 'won't'. I was sitting on the floor in The Opening Show studio with a lump in my throat.
It's been brilliantly relentless since Saturday, having hosted my first Cheltenham preview, been point-to-pointing at Larkhill and then on Monday night I was lucky enough to host the 2017 Godolphin Stud and Stable staff awards in London.
Since I made the switch from football to present racing on ITV, I have been blown away by the work these heroes do. Without stable staff there would be no racing. It's as simple as that.
Of all the interviews we've done on ITV since we started on January 1, my two favourites are Alice speaking to Sarah Buckley before Dynaste's final race and then Oliver Sherwood, who spoke so brilliantly after the tragic loss of Many Clouds, explaining how much the horse meant to Lisa, CJ, Nathan and his team.
The awards were the perfect opportunity to recognise the hard work and dedication of all these stud and stable staff and it was a huge honour to host.
All 18 finalists should be congratulated and the room was full of great characters, from the newcomer award winner 19-year-old Elisha Whittington, who works for Tom Dascombe and was a bundle of energy and passion for her job, to 74-year-old Bryn Walker, part of Hugo Palmer's team and a finalist for the Dedication to Racing award. What a man. He told the room that this year might be his last. Mark my words – Bryn will be back!
The big winner of the night and 2017 Employee of the Year, Terry Doherty, who effectively helped build up Watership Down Stud from nothing. Terry has been Stud Manager for 24 years and when he arrived in 1992 the place had little more than rabbits. No name, no horses, and not even any posts or rails. Terry's dedication has helped shape the iconic Stud that stands there today. Congratulations to him.
However, even Terry will admit that the real star of the night was Freddy Tylicki. He presented the main award having received a highly emotional standing ovation as he made his way to the stage. What a courageous man he is. Freddy has had some very dark times since that horrific fall at Kempton but told me in our interview on stage that he's determined now to look forward and be positive. He's mischievous and funny too so the future can be bright.
Guy Disney and Freddy Tylicki. Two inspirations.