From agony to ecstasy for Minella Indo’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey Jack Kennedy

JOCKEY JACK Kennedy’s victory on Minella Indo in the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup completed the most remarkable racing rollercoaster ride of his life.

Jack Kennedy celebrates the Gold Cup win of Minella Indo.

His exultation crossing the greatest winning line in National Hunt racing was in complete contrast to his desolation 24 hours earlier as he cut a disconsolate figure on the long trudge back to the winners’ enclosure.

He had just come to grief from Envoi Allen, one of the Irish bankers of the week, in the Marsh Novices’ Chase and he could only be consoled by the fact that his mount was left unharmed after taking off too prematurely.

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Now Kennedy, who has, for years, been the rising star of Irish racing alongside Rachael Blackmore on Gold Cup runner-up A Plus Tard, had reached the pinnacle of the sport after an injury-hit career.

Jack Kennedy crosses the Gold Cup winning line on Minella Indo.

Despite being only 21, he’s already recovered from four broken legs and multiple breaks to his collarbones and shoulders.

The injuries have been as frequent as his Grade One wins that now stand at 22 but the pain and sacrifice, he says, is justified by this win.

“It’s definitely the best day of my life. You dream about winning those sorts of races when you’re a child,” said Kennedy.

“I know I’m still young, but I suppose I have been in the position where I could have been winning them for a couple of years, so to get it done is brilliant.

Jack Kennedy embraces Minella Indo after their Gold Cup win.

“I thought I had as good a chance as any horse in the race, to be honest. I had gone down to school Minella Indo at Henry’s, and a few of the lads in the yard were keen on him, so I was fairly confident going out on him. I suppose the fact that Rachael picked A Plus Tard probably took the pressure off, as well.

“I had to switch in and out a couple of times during the race because I wanted to get my lad a clear view of his fences without going too wide at the same time. It went very smoothly; he travelled and jumped great and there wasn’t really any point in the race that I wasn’t happy.

“I was left in front very soon though and he pricked his ears after the last, but when A Plus Tard came to him he went on again. I suppose turning into the straight I knew it was going to take something fairly good to beat him, and although I was there too soon I didn’t want to disappoint him by taking him back and waiting a bit longer with him. I was very confident the whole way.”

Kennedy added: “This is massive – I can’t believe it’s after happening, to be honest, and I was emotional about it. It means the world to me.

“I’ve broken my leg four times. I missed last year’s Festival because I broke it about two months beforehand, but thankfully I’ve had a year this year that I’ll remember for a long time. It could always be a lot worse – broken legs and broken collarbones will heal. It’s obviously unfortunate, but you have to get on with it.”

Asked what has kept him going during the tough times when he has been off with injuries, Kennedy answered: “I suppose when you’ve got horses of that calibre to get back for, if you can’t get back for them, there’s no point doing it.”

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