Today’s post is a very interesting one. I got to sit down with Charlie Poste and interview him and I can honestly say he is one of the most knowledgeable people within the sport that I have had the honour of speaking with. He genuinely knows so much about the sport, I thoroughly enjoyed this interview, I hope you guys enjoy it too. Without further-ado, let’s jump straight into it!
Me: What was your favourite race of your career, win or lose?
Charlie: Win or lose, erm I suppose winning the Welsh National on Le Beau Bai, it was like my first big winner. I had been riding for a good while and you start wondering whether you’re ever gonna have those big winners and those nice pictures on the wall when you retire and so that was a massive moment for me. I rode a lot for Richard Lee in my career as well and the horse himself, he was a lovely horse, tough, good jumping, just a proper proper race horse, so that was the best day.
Me: On from winning the Welsh National, Chepstow is a hard track to ride around, a lot of jockey’s have said that, what’s the secret? How do you get a horse to win at Chepstow?
Charlie: I don’t know. I suppose a lot of my big winners in my career were related in staying chasers on bad ground, which meant I rode a lot of slow horses more than anything. But I think around there, it is a nutritional test because of the ground but the fences come in lovely places, it’s a proper rhythm track and certainly the likes of Le Beau Bai, he was a real accurate great jumper, he’d always land in rhythm whether he was in deep or standing off a fence and that stood him in some stead that day. Giles Cross made the running and I just followed him the whole way really and he didn’t miss a beat the whole way around so on bad ground like that you’re always saving energy because you’re jumping well and not missing fences and having to chase him back into the bridal and I think that’s key around tracks with bad ground, rhythm is the most important thing.
Me: You currently break in horses including a Cheltenham winner and Supreme Novice second in Thomas Darby for Olly Murphy, how much joy do you get seeing a horse you’ve broke in go on to succeed and do so well?
Charlie: It’s massive, you know. Along side the breaking we also produce horses to run in point to points and sell and we’ve got Third Time Lucki who runs in the Champion Bumper (*We now know he came fourth for Dan and Harry Skelton). We are very well supported by Olly, we break in most of his youngsters and the likes of Thomas Darby are special talents. And I look at it now, my life has changed and you’re sort of running an academy, like a youth academy and to get on these horses initially, the likes of Thomas Darby, who has loads of athletic ability to start cantering him and jumping him, it’s a bit of alright, you know? I can’t wait to see him go and to see them actually go and back it up on the track, they’re not like your kids, but as I said, it’s like being a youth team coach at a Premier League football club and seeing someone and thinking ‘he’s a bit special’ then seeing them go through the ranks and go on to do them on the big occasion, it’s very special.
Me: And do you have any horses with you currently you think can go on and be something special?
Charlie: From the point to pointing group we’ve got this time, we actually sell a horse at Cheltenham on Thursday night called Kenyan Cowboy who won on debut, he looks very good. And we’ve had, actually because of the weather we’ve been held up, but we have a lot of young horses ready to come out. We’ve got a lovely horse by Court Cave called Adjournment that looks like he could be very special, he might make his debut this weekend at Larkhill (*We now know he came second. He is currently for sale so if interested contact Charlie via his Twitter page). Another called Fox in the Box by Presenting, again they’re both not far off being ready to run and you’re hoping with a bit of luck they’re able to win their point to point and go to the sales and make plenty of money because that means the wheels can keep on turning and then what you want, a bit like Thomas Darby and all these horses we break in, to become high achievers, because that’s the most special thing.
Me: If you could ride any horse that is currently in training, what horse would you choose and why?
Charlie Poste: Erm, I’m gonna give two to you. For a proven one, I’d love to ride Altior, I just think he’s the most special horse. To win a Supreme Novice, Arkle, 2 Champion Chases and he just looks like the most lovely horse to ride. You can put him anywhere in a race and you know he’s going to hit a bit of a flat spot, but you know when it really happens and the turbo kicks in, he’s always hitting the line very strong. I love to see that in a race horse where they’re galloping through the line in a finish. I think he’s, not an underrated champion but I think he is a very very special horse. And for emerging horses, I think Envoi Allen looks like he has the world at his feet. I was at the sales when he won his point to point and was sold for big money and then I was lucky enough to be in the paddock at the Champion Bumper last year and he just looks like the most beautiful, big, scopey model just walking around, taking it all in, acting like he owned the place and then backed it up with a tremendous performance. His hurdling career has been perfect so far, you want to see him win in the Ballymore (*We now know he did in fact win the Ballymore at 4/7F for Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell). and then sort of move on and whether he goes chasing or stays hurdling next year in the Champion Hurdle. But we need these elite level horses that are absolutely the best of the best because that’s what really markets the sport.
Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?
Charlie: Erm, I think it’s difficult. Now, from the outside looking in, I remember when the whip rule got reduced from sort of 16 to 8 and we were all up in arms about it, saying ‘this could never happen, it’ll ruin racing’ but actually what it did was make riding better because all of a sudden riders are thinking about when to use the whip, not going for it too early. And for me the most obvious solution is, we need strong leadership from the BHA. Of course we don’t want to pander to the outside world, but we have to accept in a modern world that perception is key to maximise the marketing potential of the sport and to invite other people in. And I think the most sensible thing in the short term is the BHA come out and say if you go over the limit, you get disqualified and what would happen is, even if it happened once or twice, trial it in a period where there aren’t big festivals so the riders can get used to it and if it happened once or twice, it would never happen again. And I think what would happen then is you would have riders that, if it was 8 over jumps, you’d probably only go to 4 or 5 because you’re gonna think I’m not even gonna risk losing count or maybe being 8 or 9 and not sure. And I think riding would improve again for it. I don’t feel unfortunately there is a tide and a wave behind it where the whip will eventually go but short term, to prolong it, because I do think it’s a useful aid for a jockey then the disqualifying anyone who goes over whether that’s a placed horse, unplaced horse or a winner, that’s the most sensible solution.
Me: Looking beyond the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National is soon approaching. Who do you think has a good chance? Do you think any horses were helped or hindered with the weights? Do you think Tiger Roll can win again? (*We now know the Grand National is cancelled, however I have kept this question in because I found Charlie’s answer interesting).
Charlie: I mean Tiger Roll, we all know the O’Leary’s play this game every year moaning about the handicapper and whatever else and you know, Tiger Roll is off 170 and I know he’s got a couple of pounds extra because of his Aintree factor, but it’s fair enough isn’t it when you win 2 Grand Nationals. And in any other era, Tiger Roll could easily go in for a Gold Cup, he’s a horse with an enormous amount of ability, I’d love to see him go on and do it and again, it would be great for racing and the wider world looking in. Another one I think would be pretty special, I’d love to see Ramses De Teillee win the Albert Bartlett then win the Grand National, I think that would be a pretty unique double to win. A novice hurdle at the Festival then the Grand National.
Me: Are there any horses currently who are just starting out that you can see going on to win the big ones like a Gold Cup or Grand National?
Charlie: I suppose because we’re in the infancy of what we do, a lot of these horses are only just emerging on the scene, for Olly called Here Comes McCoy who was in the market for the Champion Bumper, I don’t think he runs, I think maybe he goes to Aintree, but he looks like a horse with an enormous amount of talent. Other ones coming through like I K Brunel I think he could be a very special horse when he goes novice chasing. I mean and looking at the Festival itself, you’re looking at horses like The Big Breakaway, The Big Getaway of Willie’s, you know these novice hurdlers are laden with talent and what you’re hoping for is something from there steps up to the next grade and becomes a real superstar.
Me: What is your favourite day of the racing calendar?
Charlie: My favourite day, the Cheltenham Festival it’s the Tuesday, everyone is tingling with excitement and I think the racing across the board with the Arkle, Champion Hurdle, Supreme Novice, I think it’s unrivalled, the quality of racing. From a spectators point of view I love Glorious Goodwood, we go every year for a couple of days and as far as flat racing goes, it’s as good as it gets. There’s a slightly more sort of interested crowd that go rather than Ascot where people go for the social. I think Glorious Goodwood is as good as anything.
Me: What would you say is your favourite track you ever road at?
Charlie: I mean the smaller ones, like Towcester, I had a lot of success there, like I say riding slow horses but I always enjoyed riding around there. For the bigger tracks, Cheltenham is a stand alone, everyone says Cheltenham. My favourite track to ride at was the chase track at Sandown, the 7 fences down the back, it’s just a massive test of jumping and to go round there on a speedy 2 mile chaser, you can’t beat it.
Me: What would you say to anyone who says horse racing is animal cruelty?
Charlie: I think they need to come in and actually… I think it’s like anything, it’s easy to have an opinion from the outside looking in. But if you want to come in and see the care these horses are given and all that goes into and you still feel like that, then fair enough, but I think it’s a lot of throw away comments that people make. I think you have to remember, when all is said and done, we love these animals but they are selectively bred to do this job, if there was no racing, there would be no thoroughbred. If you go into the yards and see the care given day in, day out and the love showered upon these horse by the stable lads and girls and the jockeys, I assure you now, when I have ridden a horse and it’s ended up losing it’s life, it bloody hurts and you have to move on from it, but you go home and you feel like hell about it, it’s the last thing you want to happen. And when all is said and done, when I see the care and love that’s given to them all, it’s a compromise that I am willing and completely comfortable with because I actually drive around the roads and see horses stood in the fields that are malnourished with no care and attention. These guys and girls, the horses they’re given, they’re given 24/7 the best of the best and it is terrible when we lose the odd one, but as I said, it’s a compromise I think I am completely comfortable with.
Me: And the final question, what is your best piece of advice for a young person with a dream that they want to follow whether in racing or outside of racing?
Charlie: Get in and work hard. There’s not substitution for working hard. As a young rider, if you want to get on in the sport, regardless of your riding ability, come in, work hard, know form inside out, get fit, be polite as well. Good manners and a great work ethic will take you a long way.
Again I would like to say a massive thank you to Charlie for his time, he was an absolute gent and as I said before, he knows so much about the sport it’s incredible.
I hope you guys enjoyed reading this as much as I have conducting the interview and writing it out.