Seddon went to Cheltenham as our first-ever runner at the spiritual home of horse racing not just jump racing. The day was filled with emotion, we have of course enjoyed many great days. Our Syndicate has had Sixteen wins prior to this, and we have run in plenty of big races on the flat. However, despite all that this was Cheltenham this meant a huge amount to everyone involved. The plan since we got Seddon was to come here for this race since the day we got him. Every move had been thought out his first two races had gone to plan. Seddon came here with a second at Cartmel over fences and a very promising third back over hurdles at Navan over a trip too short of two miles. Seddon had been going well in training. John McConnell had told us in advance he expected Seddon to be still on the bridle coming down the hill at the business end. Seddon did not let John down!!
The build-up to the race was a mixture of excitement, nerves and emotion. There were even tears shed before we started. As the enormity of having a runner in the most special of racecourses sunk in. We as a group were struggling to find a winner before Seddon's race. One of the syndicate's stalwarts joked " Maybe we will just win our own race how about that?" It was show time no going back we headed for the pre-parade ring. As we went down the stairs I turned to Sharon, Ian, and Gary, and said: " Whatever luck we are due for the rest of our lives please let it be in the six minutes of the race". As we arrived at the Pre-parade ring John and Amy were adjusting Seddon's equipment. It was so quiet and we were all taking it in. John placed Mokhalad's browband (he had worn in his last race and victory at Galway) on Seddon's head the King would be with us as we attempted the impossible dream. John McConnell beckoned people forward to wish Seddon well Johnny and Daniel patted Seddon good luck. Amy Crook kissed Seddon on the cheek. Seddon headed out and we walked behind him proudly taking our place in the world's most famous parade ring. Seddon was far more relaxed than his owners taking it all in his stride. Ben Harvey was confident before the race stating I will ride him for pace. We wished Ben well and took a collective deep breath. Seddon left the parade ring we decided to watch on the balcony on the top floor. This was a great decision as we saw it all unfold in front of us.
What can I say about the race? I have just about come back down to earth. An incredible day one we will all take to our graves. I am coming to Cheltenham since 1996 I thought I had already seen everything here at Cheltenham. I have now!!! Seddon travelled like the wrath of God through the race he was catching the eye a long way out travelling powerfully his jumping was efficient. Coole Cody a Cheltenham icon was having a really hard time going quick enough for Seddon. When Ben Harvey sent Seddon on at the second last the response was immediate and unless Seddon fell we were winning from a long way out. Seddon turned for home in command coming around the home turn full of running. Seddon took dead aim at the last and absolutely pinged it powering away from it into an eight to ten-length lead. As Seddon pulverized a field of good horses at the home of jump racing. The last 100 yards were just amazing as Seddon powered up the hill for a victory that was right out of the top drawer. Ben Harvey had time to take in the victory and ease slightly up for a five-and-a-half-length victory over Fontana Ellissi who ran on for second it was ten lengths back to Onagatheringstorm in third. Seddon had delivered a resounding victory at Cheltenham. The victory for Seddon was described by the commentator as being in a league of his own and comprehensive. It was dreamland stuff.
The scenes in the parade ring as stated in the Racing Post would not have been out of place at the Festival. We enjoyed our moment. There were lots of tears shed nobody went unhugged. For us, it had been a lifetime ambition and dreams to be here with a runner never mind a winner. All of our lives we have wanted to stand in the winner's enclosure at Cheltenham. We wondered what it must be like. I can assure everyone it is even better than it looks. It is the most special place for us, standing on the same ground as the great champions of our sport. Cheltenham could not have treated us any better all day. The racecourse handled the post-race part incredibly. The chairman Martin St Quinton calmly guided us through the formalities in a warm, friendly manner.
We are incredibly proud to have earned a small part in the history of the world's greatest racecourse. Of course, going for Seddon was a new departure for the Syndicate. All change is uncomfortable, however, in life, you must just try. The McNeill family were very honourable they sold us Seddon in brilliant condition. We are grateful for both the integrity and the genuine good wishes from The McNeill setup.
It was a brilliant training performance from John McConnell who had Seddon excellently prepared. John has guided us through some difficult times in the last 18 months. John McConnell wears an exceptional talent very lightly. He is just a very nice person who tries really hard for his owners. John is easy company and makes everyone in his company feel welcome. I have no doubt John McConnell is going to have a brilliant career, he is always thinking about horses. Amy Crook who looks after Seddon and is actually John Mc Connell's girlfriend has done an exceptional job with Seddon as the apple of her eye. Amy is no stranger to success herself as her father trained a Scottish Grand National winner. All the way up to the race Amy felt Seddon was moving beautifully at home.
Ben Harvey rode a brilliant race keeping it simple as well as ice cool. Ben is a big part of Johns's team. I am sure Ben is going to have an exceptional career with horses wherever that path leads. Ben conducted himself brilliantly when interviewed post-race. We will sit down with John about what to do next. Those conversations can wait there is no hurry. We will most likely take the UK on again, however it must be the right race for the right reasons. The Cheltenham Festival would be a long-term possibility, however, March is a long way away. Seddon has the same handicap mark over fences so we can mix and match. The world is our oyster with Seddon basically. Seddon whose nickname is Harry has made so many people happy. Thanks to everyone who got in touch the volume of messages has been overwhelming. We are grateful for all of them. What a day.