Don Cossack: What Makes a People’s Horse?

Good Morning!

Welcome to a new post here on zoelouisesmithx.com. Before I get into today’s post I would like to make a few announcements, unusual for me, I know, but I am super excited and proud and would like to share with my readers!

Firstly, I would like to formally announce I am officially working with Careers In Racing to continue to create content and promote the sport I love. I am truly honoured to be given this opportunity and I cannot wait to get started! You can read my opening interview right now on their website: https://www.careersinracing.com/careers-in-racing-social-creators-zoe-smith/ where I introduce myself and also answer some questions I never have before. I am super exited for this project and I know it will be incredible, so keep an eye on my website and my social media for more information!

Secondly, I was asked by someone you probably all know, William Kedjanyi, to write up his Just William column for Star Sports this week and I absolutely took him up on that opportunity. I focus in on social media within horse racing, amateur jockey’s not being allowed to ride at the Cheltenham Festival as well as Tiger Roll and his future. You can read that right here: https://www.starsportsbet.co.uk/just-william-zoe-smiths-racing-takes/. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this up, something totally different to my usual work and I hope you all enjoy.

Now, with those being said, let’s just jump right into today’s post. My Dad is my number one fan who reads every post I write and always gives me ideas for new posts I can look to write. So today I decided to focus in on a horse who my dad absolutely loves and followed throughout his career and that is Don Cossack. So without further ado, let’s get right into it!


Don Cossack was foaled 21st March 2007, by Sholokhov out of Depeche Toi. He was bred by Gestut Etzean in Germany. Don Cossack was sent to Ireland where he entered ownership of W. B. Connors who sent him into training with Edward Hales.

Don Cossack’s career started on 3rd May 2011 when he ran in a 4 year old National Hunt Flat Race for Mares and Geldings where he finished 5th out of 24 under Robbie McNamara at 6/1. Very shortly after, on 24th October 2011 Don Cossack was brought by the Gigginstown House Stud and move to Gordon Elliott’s yard. After an 179 day break, on 29th October 2011, he was sent to Naas for a National Hunt Flat Race where he started as the 2/1 favourite under Nina Carberry where he won his first race.

Don Cossack then had a 50 day break before returning to the track, this time to Navan on 18th December for a Grade 2 National Hunt Flat Race. He won by 1 1/2 lengths under Nina Carberry as the 4/6 favourite. He took another break, this time of 113 days, not returning to the track until the 9th April 2012. This time to Fairyhouse, winning by 17 lengths as the 6/5 favourite, again under Nina Carberry.

After a 230 day summer break, Don Cossack returned to Navan, this time for a Maiden Hurdle over 2 miles. He started the race as the 30/100 favourite, this time under Davy Russell and impressively won by 9 1/2 lengths. Next for Don Cossack was a Novice Hurdle at Navan on the 16th December 2012, where he started the race as the odds on 8/15 favourite under Davy Russell. Shocking everyone, this was the first time Don Cossack had lost in his career, taking his first fall. After this race, Gordon Elliott did say that he was found to be lame.

We then move into 2013, on the 3rd February, Don Cossack went to Punchestown for the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle over 2 miles. Under Davy Russell he started as the 6/5 favourite. He ended up finishing 2nd by 1 length behind Mozoltov (9/4) trained by Willie Mullins with Ruby Walsh riding. Three weeks later, Don Cossack went to Naas to compete in a Grade 2 Novice Hurdle. He started at 5/2, again under Davy Russell. He ended up finishing 3rd behind the winner Annie Power (5/2), the Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh partnership and in second place Defy Logic (13/8F) with AP McCoy on board for Paul Nolan.

Don Cossack then took a 246 day summer break, returning to the track, this time going to Galway for a Beginners Chase on the 28th October 2013 over 2 mile 6 1/2 furlong. He won the race under Andrew Lynch as the 10/11 favourite and in a very stylish way too, winning by 20 lengths. A very impressive start to his chasing career. Three weeks later, Don Cossack returned to Punchestown where he ran in a Grade 2 Novice Chase over 2 mile 6 furlong on the 17th November. He finished second as the odds on 4/5 favourite, this time with Bryan Cooper riding. The eventual winner, by 1/2 length, was Morning Assembly (6/4) for Ruby Walsh.

Two weeks later on the 1st December 2013, Don Cossack headed to Fairyhouse to compete in a Grade 1 Novice Chase over 2 mile 4 furlong. This time with Davy Russell taking up the ride and winning as the 13/8 favourite. Don Cossack took a 70 day break before returning in 2014, this time to Leopardstown on the 9th February, for another Grade 1 Novice Chase over 2 mile 5 furlong. With Bryan Cooper taking the ride, he started as the Evens favourite. Finishing second by 4 lengths behind the duo of Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins with Ballycasey (2/1).

The next time we would see Don Cossack was when he took his first trip across the pond to go to the biggest stage of them all, the Cheltenham Festival on the 12th March 2014. Here he ran in the Grade 1 RSA Chase, he started at 11/1 under Bryan Cooper, sadly he fell only for the second time in his career. However, his season wasn’t quite over yet. Gordon Elliott sent Don Cossack back to England, this time to Aintree on the 4th April 2014 to run in a Grade 1 Novice’ Chase over 3 mile 1 furlong. He started at 4/1 under Davy Russell, however only managed second place behind the very powerful duo of AP McCoy and Jonjo O’Neill with Holywell (7/2). Don Cossack ended his season at Punchestown for a Grade 1 Novice Chase on the 29th April, at 4/1. He finished 4th out of 5 with Barry Geraghty riding. Out of the 3 horses who finished ahead of him, 2 had previously beaten him before, 3rd place Morning Assembly (7/4F), 2nd place Ballycasey (3/1) and winner Carlingford Lough (7/2).

Next for Don Cossack was a 170 day summer break before returning to Punchestown on the 16th October 2014 for a Grade 3 Chase where he returned to his winning ways, winning at 11/10 under Bryan Cooper by 5 1/2 lengths. Next for Don Cossack was on my 18th birthday, 1st November 2014, where he headed to Down Royal for a Grade 2 Chase. He beat the odds on 8/11 favourite, Wonderful Charm, who finished in second place. Don Cossack won by 8 1/2 lengths under Bryan Cooper at 6/4. One month later, Don Cossack headed back to Punchestown for a Grade 1 Chase, this time beating the 11/10 favourite Boston Bob who finished in second place. This time by 4 1/2 lengths under Brian O’Connell at 13/8.

We then move into 2015 and on the 15th January Don Cossack headed to Thurles with Bryan Cooper riding, making it 4/4 for the season, this time winning at 6/4 by a massive 44 lengths. He then took a 56 day break before returning to England to have a second shot at the Cheltenham Festival, this time the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase on the 12th March. He started as the 5/2 favourite under Bryan Cooper, however could only manage a 3rd place behind the winner Uxzandre (16/1) for AP McCoy and Alan King and in second place Ma Filleule (5/1) for Barry Geraghty and Nicky Henderson.

Don Cossack returned to England on the 10th April 2015 for the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree, where he started as the 3/1 joint favourite. This time he was rode by a new jockey as Bryan Cooper was currently serving a suspension, the new jockey being Champion Jockey AP McCoy. He ended up winning by 26 lengths to the horse I focused in on Wednesday, the brilliant Cue Card. With trainer Gordon Elliott saying in an interview:

I said a couple of years ago he was the best horse I’ve trained. It didn’t work out then, but he looks it now. AP (McCoy) said he just gallops and gallops. It will be the Gold Cup now.”

https://www.independent.ie/sport/horse-racing/don-on-gold-cup-trail-after-impressing-for-mccoy-31133904.html

Don Cossack ended his season at Punchestown on the 29th April beating 2/1 favourite Djakadam in the Irish Gold Cup, this time by 7 lengths at 5/2 under Paul Carberry with regular jockey Bryan Cooper opting to ride Road To Riches. With trainer Gordon Elliott later saying:

We wanted to find out if he stayed the trip or not at this stage of the season so we would know where we are going next year. He’s always been the apple of my eye and this is one of the proudest days I’ve had training horses so far. I feel sorry for Bryan (Cooper, who chose to ride Road To Riches in the same colours as the owner Michael O’Leary) but he had to go with the other horse after being third in the Gold Cup. But I’m delighted for Paul; he’s been associated with me for a long time and to give him a Grade One is brilliant. We were nervous about running him but it’s the Gold Cup so we took our chance and now I’ll be safe in the job for another year, please God. I’m just so happy with the way he did it; he put seven lengths between them on the way to the line.”

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/apr/29/impressive-don-cossack-punchestown-gold-cup

After a 169 day summer break, Don Cossack returned to Punchestown on the 15th October 2015 for a Grade 3 Chase, winning as the 1/4 favourite with Bryan Cooper on board, this time by 12 lengths to stable companion Roi Du Mee (14/1). Two weeks later, Don Cossack headed to Down Royal with Bryan Cooper again, for a Grade 1 Champion Chase over 3 miles. He won as the odds on 2/11 favourite by 8 lengths. For his final race of 2015, Don Cossack headed back to England, this time to Kempton on Boxing Day for the King George Chase. He started the race as the 15/8 favourite under regular jockey Bryan Cooper, however ended up falling 2 out, with Wednesday evening’s post hero Cue Card winning (9/2).

We then move into 2016 and on the 14th January Don Cossack headed to Thurles for a Grade 2 chase over 2 mile 4 furlong, he started as the odds on 1/8 favourite under Bryan Cooper where he won by 9 1/2 lengths. So, where to next for Don Cossack, a third appearance at the Cheltenham Festival and little did we know, would be his last appearance, not only at the Festival but in racing altogether. Don Cossack was made the 9/4 favourite for the Grade 1 Cheltenham Gold Cup where, under Bryan Cooper, he won by 4 1/2 lengths to Djakadam (9/2). With jockey Bryan Cooper saying:

Everything went perfect. I didn’t want to get him crowded and we got into a lovely jumping rhythm. I knew turning in that there was only one winner bar a fall. He could have gone round again. There was a lot of press around saying that I couldn’t get on with the horse and I think I’ve proved you all wrong now, so I’m delighted.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/mar/18/bryan-cooper-cheltenham-gold-cup-favourite-don-cossack

Sadly, we would never see Don Cossack on track again. He was being prepared to run at the Punchestown Festival in April 2016, when he sustained a serious tendon injury. After seemingly recovering from his injury, he returned to training, with retaining the Gold Cup being his main goal. However in January 2017, it was said that Don Cossack had suffered a recurrence of the leg injury and the decision had been made to retire him from racing. With Gordon Elliott saying:

It’s a real sickener for Gigginstown, myself, Bryan Cooper and the whole yard. We knew it was never certain we would get him back to the racecourse and, even after that, to get him back to his best, but we were hopeful and he was on track for a run. He’s a horse of a lifetime and he owes us nothing. I said all season that if he had any sort of setback at all we would not abuse him and retire him straight away. It was one of the highlights of my career when Don Cossack won the Gol Cup for us last year and he retires a champion. A peaceful retirement awaits him out in Gigginstown.”

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/11/cheltenham-gold-cup-winner-don-cossack-retired-injury-setback-horse-racing

After going through his incredible career, I am going to go into a few facts about Don Cossack, so lets just jump into it.

Firstly, let’s go through Don Cossack’s race record

5111/1F23/1212F2/4111131/111F11/

So let’s now sum those numbers up!

27 Races
16 x 1st
4 x 2nd
2 x 3rd
1 x 4th
1 x 5th
3 x Fall

So all in all, he had an unreal career, winning £907,365 in total. It may have been a short career, but what a career it was. I was lucky enough last February to visit Olly Murphy, who was Gordon Elliott’s assistant trainer at the time of Don Cossack’s peak. He told me the following about Don Cossack:

Yeah, it was magic. He was the apple of Gordon’s eye from a young age. And it was great to be there and see him go through the ranks and in a Gold Cup. It was probably my biggest days racing aside from coming home and training myself. Being at Cheltenham and seeing him win a Gold Cup, it was magic, the emotion the whole day was second to none and yeah, he’s a horse who unfortunately we probably didn’t get to see the best of either.

https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2020/02/16/a-stable-visit-to-olly-murphys-warren-chase-a-full-interview/

For me, I think Don Cossack can be classed as a people’s horse because he showed people time and time again that he could come back. He would fall or have a bad race, but he would always return and fight his heart out and no matter what he would always try his best. Personally, Don Cossack was the first horse I bet on in the Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup and ended up being my first Gold Cup winner too so he will always be special to me and I am gutted that we never go to see him again, I think we only seen half of what he was capable of and it’s a real shame that a recurring injury made sure he could never show that to the world.

I have the upmost respect for Gordon Elliott and the O’Leary’s, they didn’t try to overwork him, they made the decision to retire him as a champion so he could live a happy and healthy retirement.

Don started a new career with Irish Olympic eventer Louise Lyons. With Louise saying:

He has been with me for about a month and we have been to three shows – he is loving it and is really enjoying the attention. At shows we have had people coming up to stroke him and have their picture taken with him.”

https://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/don-cossack-racehorse-retraining-louise-lyons-658114

Honestly, I am just so happy and relieved that Don Cossack got to finish on his own terms, I am so happy that the team decided to retire him and not push him for that extra run which could have ended disastrously. He was an incredible talent, but also a lovely horse and I am honoured to have been around to be able to watch him.

So, there we have it, Don Cossack in all his glory. I am thoroughly enjoying doing research into these posts, reading news articles, re-watching videos, searching their careers, it’s been incredible and I am really loving it and from the reaction on social media, so are my followers. I am still working my way through the 100’s of suggestions I have had sent to me, as well as focusing on more history stories and also a few new ideas I have in the works. I also have a few interviews planned leading up to Cheltenham, so if all goes as planned then it is all roads lead to Cheltenham! I am currently sticking to a strict schedule of 2 posts per week and I think that is working well for me at the moment, I am unsure if this will change at any point, but for the time being I will be continuing to post every Wednesday at 6pm and every Saturday at 11am.

Thank you again for reading, I will see you all in my next post!

Cue Card: What Makes a People’s Horse?

Good Evening!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com, I hope everyone is well and staying safe as these weird times continue! However on a positive note, Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner so we have a brilliant 4 days of top class racing to look forward to – even if it is from the sofa!

So, today’s post is all about the brilliant Cue Card and I want to thank Emma for this suggestion. If you don’t follow Emma then I highly recommend you do, my fellow Native River super fan! So, with that being said, let’s jump right into it!

Cue Card was foaled 30th April 2006, by King’s Theatre (IRE) out of Wicked Crack (IRE). He was bred by R T Crellin in Great Britain. As a yearling, Cue Card was sent to the National Hunt Sale in February 2007, where he was brought for €75,000 by Aiden Murphy. He then returned to the Derby Sale as a gelding in June 2009 where he was brought for €52,000 by Aidan Kennedy for the eventual owner Mrs Jean R Bishop who sent him to Colin Tizzard’s yard to be trained.

Cue Card started his career in a National Hunt Flat Race (Bumper) at Fontwell on 25th January 2010, starting the race at 6/1 under Joe Tizzard where he won easily by 6 lengths. So, with a win under his belt, Cue Card was sent straight to the Cheltenham Festival to contest in a Grade 1 Bumper. He was a massive outsider starting the race at 40/1 with Joe Tizzard riding again, however surprising everyone, he won the race very easily by 8 lengths beating Ruby Walsh on Paul Nicholls’ trained Al Ferof (8/1).

After two very easy wins, Cue Card took a 221 day summer break, before returning on 24th October 2010 at Aintree for his first Novice Hurdle race over 2 mile 4 furlong. With Joe Tizzard taking the ride again, he started as the odds on 1/2 favourite, where he won by an even bigger margin than he previously had, 13 lengths from Dear Sam (10/1). A few weeks later Cue Card returned to Cheltenham on 12th November 2010 for a Grade 2 Novice Hurdle, where again he started as the odds on favourite at 8/13, with now regular companion Joe Tizzard riding. Surprising absolutely nobody, Cue Card once again won, this time beating Dunraven Storm (5/1) ridden by Richard Johnson for Philip Hobbs by 8 lengths. Just one month later on 11th December 2010, Cue Card returned to Cheltenham for a Grade 2 International Hurdle, with Joe Tizzard on board. He started the race at 15/8, however this time he suffered his first defeat with Richard Johnson and Philip Hobbs reversing the form and winning with Menorah (7/4F) by 4 and 1/2 lengths.

Cue Card took a 94 day break, before returning to Cheltenham for the Festival on 15th March 2011, this time for the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, again being ridden by Joe Tizzard. He started as the 7/4 favourite, however disappointingly for many, he ended up finishing 4th behind the winner Al Ferof (10/1), Spirit Son (5/1) in second and Sprinter Sacre (11/1) in third. A month later on 9th April 2011 Cue Card travelled up to Aintree for a Grade 2 Novices’ Hurdle, this time starting the race as the 5/2 favourite under Joe Tizzard, where he unfortunately came second to Spirit Son (3/1) by 13 lengths.

Cue Card took 182 days away from the track for his summer holiday, before returning on the 8th October 2011. This time travelling to Chepstow for his first attempt over the bigger obstacles in his first Novices’ Chase. He started as the odds on 10/11 favourite with Joe Tizzard taking the ride once again. Cue Card took to jumping fences like a duck to water, winning by 3 and 1/2 lengths. A month later on 11th November 2011, Cue Card’s next run would take place at Cheltenham for another Novices’ Chase, starting at 7/4. Cue Card was travelling well before he blundered and unseated his rider Joe Tizzard. Just two weeks later on 25th November 2011, Cue Card went to Newbury for a Grade 2 Novice Chase, this time starting at 2/1 with Joe Tizzard taking the ride again. Cue Card ended up losing by a short head to Evens favourite Bobs Worth, both ending up 35 furlongs ahead of the remaining two horses in the race. On 31st December 2011 Cue Card returned to Newbury, this time winning at 5/2 under Joe Tizzard.

After a 73 day break, Cue Card returned to the Cheltenham Festival for the Grade 1 Arkle Chase, where he finished second at 13/2 under Joe Tizzard, 7 furlongs behind the odds on 8/11 favourite Sprinter Sacre. After this, Cue Card took a 238 day summer break before returning on 6th November 2012 at Exeter for the Grade 2 Gold Cup Chase. He won easily by 26 furlongs as the odds on 5/6 favourite with regular jockey Joe Tizzard on board. After a 50 day break, Cue Card headed to Kempton on Boxing Day 2011 for the Grade 1 King George, where at 5/1 under Joe Tizzard, he ended up finishing 5th behind winner Long Run (15/8F), Captain Chris (16/1) in second, Grands Crus (7/1) in third and Champion Court (25/1) in fourth.

Heading into 2013, Cue Card took a 52 day break before returning to Ascot on 16th February 2013 for the Grade 1 Ascot Chase, where as the 15/8 favourite under Joe Tizzard he won by 6 lengths. On 14th March 2013, Cue Card headed straight for the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase. He started the race at 7/2 with Joe Tizzard taking his normal place riding. This time he beat the 2/1 Irish trained favourite, First Lieutenant, pretty easily by 9 lengths. Cue Card’s final race of the season came on 5th April 2013 at Aintree in the Grade 1 Melling Chase under Joe Tizzard, starting at 7/1, where he finished 4 and 1/2 lengths behind 1/3 odds on favourite and eventual winner Sprinter Sacre.

Cue Card took a well deserved 214 day summer break before returning on 5th November 2013 to Exeter where he went for the Haldon Gold Cup, starting as the 11/10 favourite with Joe Tizzard. Cue Card finished 3rd behind winner Somersby (9/2) and second placed Module (8/1). Cue Card headed to Haydock for his next race on 23rd November 2013 for the Betfair Chase. He started the race as an outsider at 9/1 with Joe Tizzard riding. Shocking everybody, he won the race comfortably in the end by 4 and 1/2 lengths. When interviewed, trainer and father of winning jockey, Colin Tizzard was visibly emotional saying the following:

My daughter rung up in tears as well. It is embarrassing of me to cry but that’s what it’s like. It’s a big one for us.”

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2013/nov/23/cue-card-betfair-chase-haydock-joy

With son and winning jockey Joe Tizzard saying:

I think that’s the first time I’ve seen him in tears, we all put a lot of work in. The horses, they haven’t been flying as much as we’d like them to at the start of the season, but the big ones are the ones that count.”

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2013/nov/23/cue-card-betfair-chase-haydock-joy

One month later on Boxing Day 2013, Cue Card returned to Kempton to go for the King George once again! This time starting the race as the 100/30 joint favourite, he went 3 better than the previous attempt, this time finishing second behind Silviniaco Conti (7/2).

Cue Card was then being aimed for the Cheltenham Festival with the Gold Cup, Ryanair and Champion Chase all being considered, however on 25th February 2014 Colin Tizzard announced that he had sustained what looked to be a muscle injury to his back so he would miss Cheltenham. However, an x-ray later revealed that Cue Card had a stress fracture to his pelvis, which ended up ruling him out for the rest of the season. With Colin saying:

We were getting nowhere. When we said he wasn’t going to run (at the Festival) we stopped riding him. The week before that, one day he’d be sound and the next he wasn’t. We said it must be a muscle. The physio said it was muscle, the vet said it was muscle, so we assumed that’s what it was. It’s a good job we did what we did. If we had given him a spin on a good day, God knows what could have happened. It’s a gut-wrencher really. You try to say it’s only a horse and there are worse things in life but expectations were high for all of us. We’ve had some brilliant days with him and hopefully we can have a few more.”

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/mar/06/cue-card-aintree-mount-benbulben-cheltenham

After taking 313 days away from the track, to the joy of so many, Cue Card did in fact return to the track on 4th November 2014. This time heading to Exeter to compete in the Haldon Gold Cup again, this time under Daryl Jacob, after regular jockey Joe Tizzard had announced his retirement. He started as the 13/8 favourite, finishing 4th, behind winner God’s Own (8/1), who interestingly enough was rode by Cue Card’s eventual partner Paddy Brennan, Balder Succes (4/1) in second and Oscar Hill (50/1) in third. Next for Cue Card was the Betfair Chase at Haydock on the 22nd November. He started as the 3/1 favourite, again under Daryl Jacob, where he again finished 4th behind winner Silviniaco Conti (100/30), second placed Menorah (10/1) and third placed Dynaste (9/2). Cue Card then headed to Kempton on Boxing Day 2014 for the King George, this time finishing 5th at 11/2 under Daryl Jacob, behind winner Silviniaco Conti (15/8F), Dynaste (7/1) in second, Al Ferof (7/1) in third and Champagne Fever (9/2) in fourth.

Cue Card didn’t head to Cheltenham, he started 2015 going to Aintree on 10th April for the Melling Chase, where he finished second under Daryl Jacob at 6/1 26 furlong behind joint favourite at 3/1 Don Cossack being rode by the Champion Jockey AP McCoy for Gordon Elliott. Cue Card finished his season by going to Ireland on 29th April 2015 heading to Punchestown for the Grade 1 Gold Cup. Starting the race as an outsider at 12/1 rode by Aidan Coleman, he ended up finishing fourth behind winner Don Cossack (5/2), Djakadam (2/1F) in second and Road to Riches (4/1) in third.

Cue Card took an 185 day summer break before returning on 31st October 2015 at Wetherby for the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase under a new, soon to be regular, jockey Paddy Brennan and starting as the 11/4 favourite, Cue Card won by 3 and 3/4 lengths. With Colin Tizzard later saying:

If you saw the DVD of the trapped epiglottis it was like a plug in his wind pipe. And horses will remember when they’ve had a problem like that. I think he needed the runs at Aintree and Punchestown to know himself that he was OK. I think it wasn’t until the Charlie Hall this year that the horse realised ‘this isn’t going to hurt when I come under pressure’. Going to the last I was thinking ‘is he going to empty?’. But then he went again and I think that was the tell-tale sign with him, realising that he could breathe.”

https://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/other_sports/14157281.cue-card-ready-for-boxing-day-bash-at-banishing-ghost-of-christmas-past/

Three weeks later on 21st November 2015 Cue Card headed to Haydock for the first part of the Stayers Chase Triple Crown, the Betfair Chase, starting at 7/4 under Paddy Brennan. He won by 7 lengths to the 2014 winner Silviniaco Conti (5/4F). Next, the second part of the Stayers Chase Triple Crown, the King George on Boxing Day 2015 at Kempton, under Paddy Brennan. He started at 9/2 and won in a photo finish by a head to Ruby Walsh on Willie Mullins’ trained Vautour (3/1). So now, it was onto the final step of the Stayers Chae Triple Crown and a possible £1 million bonus for the Tizzard team. heading straight to Cheltenham after an 83 day break on 18th March 2016, for the Gold Cup. Starting as the 5/2 second favourite under Paddy Brennan, Cue Card was travelling well and disputing the lead when he fell 3 out. (Don’t kill me, but I actually bet on eventual winner Don Cossack (9/4F) on this day!) But I think the question on the lips of almost every racing fan was, is and probably always will be… If he hadn’t have fell, would he have won the Triple Crown?

His season didn’t end there though, Cue Card bounced back for a Grade 1 Chase at Aintree on 7th April 2016, where as the 6/5 favourite under Paddy Brennan he won easily by 9 lengths to second place Irish trained Don Poli (4/1). To finish the season, Cue Card headed back to Ireland for the Punchestown Gold Cup on 27th April 2016, as the odds on 4/6 favourite under Paddy Brennan. He could only manage 4th place behind 12/1 winner Carlingford Lough, Djakadam (9/2) in second and Don Poli (6/1) in third.

Cue Card then took a very well deserved 185 day break before returning to Wetherby on 29th October 2016 for the Charlie Hall Chase where he started as the odds on 8/11 favourite under Paddy Brennan. However, disappointingly only managing to finish third behind inner Irish Cavalier (16/1) and Menorah (12/1). He then headed to Haydock three weeks later on 19th November 2016 to see if he could retain his crown in the Betfair Chase. Starting as the 15/8 favourite, Cue Card won under Paddy Brennan by 15 lengths to second place Coneygree (2/1). Of course, next was the King George on Boxing Day 2016 at Kempton, where he started as 5/4 second favourite under Paddy Brennan and ended up finishing second behind the 11/10 favourite and stable companion Thistlecrack.

To start 2017, Cue Card headed to Ascot on the 18th February for the Ascot Chase, starting as the odds on 4/9 favourite under Paddy Brennan. He surprised absolutely nobody when he won by 15 lengths to Shantou Flyer (22/1) in second place. So, next for Cue Card was the Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup on the 17th March, with Paddy Brennan on board, starting at 5/2 Where he unfortunately took a fall at the same fence as in 2016, three from the finish. He then headed to Aintree on the 6th April for the Grade 1 Chase, where as the 2/1 favourite under Paddy Brennan he finished second by a neck behind 10/1 shot Tea For Two.

After taking a 212 day summer break, Cue Card returned to the track at Wetherby on the 4th November for the Charlie Hall Chase, at 5/2 under Paddy Brennan he unfortunately fell. He then headed to Haydock on 25th November 2017 for the Betfair Chase, where he started at 2/1 and ended up finishing second by a massive 57 lengths under Harry Cobden behind 11/10 favourite Bristol De Mai who was rode by one of Cue Card’s previous riders, Daryl Jacob. He then took an 84 day break before returning to Ascot on the 17th February 2018 for the Ascot Chase, where he was a 9/1 outsider who finished second under Paddy Brennan behind the 2/1 favourite Waiting Patiently.

Cue Card’s final race came on the 15th of March at the Cheltenham Festival in the Ryanair where he started the race at 9/2 however was pulled up by Paddy Brennan before the 12th. It was later said Cue Card would have one final run at Sandown on the 28th April 2018, however Colin Tizzard had said he was not training well enough for him to be declared for the contest. His owner Mrs Jean R Bishop told the Racing Post:

It was a bit of a shock but not a hard decision because apparently Cue Card has not been working well. Normally we would just leave him to get over it and wait for another race. But because this was his retirement race, we decided he wouldn’t be 100 per cent, so he wouldn’t be entered. It is the end of an era. I feel quite sad about it but all good things come to an end. We knew it was imminent but happening like it did was unexpected.”

https://www.racingpost.com/news/all-good-things-come-to-an-end-owner-bishop-reflects-on-cue-cards-career/327830

Cue Card ended one career, but went into another. He joined Katie Jerram, a show horse producer in Essex as part of the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) programme, where he later competed in The Royal Windsor Horse Show. I also managed to see Cue Card in the 2020 RoR Parade at Cheltenham and he looked an absolute picture!

After going through his incredible career, I am going to go into a few facts about Cue Card, so lets just jump into it.

Firstly, let’s go through Cue Card’s race record

11/11242/1U212/15112/312/4452/4111F1/43121F2/F22P/

So let’s now sum those numbers up!

41 Races
16 x 1st
11 x 2nd
2 x 3rd
5 x 4th
2 x 5th
3 x Fall
1 x Unseated Rider
1 x Pulled Up

I don’t even think I need to sum it up anymore than that, Cue Card was an all round legend who was loved by so many. His statistics are up with some of the best and I think one thing I have looked at and learned through researching these horses is that it doesn’t matter, win, lose, fall, whatever the outcome, a ‘people’s horse’ is a horse that will put everything out on the track and wear it’s heart on it’s sleeve. A ‘people’s horse’ is a horse who will try 110% every single time it races and will just keep going, they’re the horses that the masses fall in love with and end up going down in history. Not only has Cue Card got an incredible record in his career, winning 2/3 in the Triple Crown and so much more, he was a horse that everybody seemed to fall in love with. Even at Cheltenham last year when the RoR parade was taking place, it was packed out with everybody taking photos of him, he still holds that power in the racing world 2 years on from his final run and that is the true definition of a ‘people’s horse’. I think Cue Card is a horse that everybody wanted to see do well, even if you backed against it, like I did in the Gold Cup when I backed Don Cossack, I still wanted to see him do well and if any horse was to make my bet a losing one, I’d have wanted it to be Cue Card. I, for one, am so glad I got to witness the greatness that is Cue Card!

An Interview with Kian Burley featuring Hannah Burley

Good Evening!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Today I am very excited to bring to you an interview with the one and only Kian Burley. I spoke with Kian and his mom Hannah on the phone last weekend where we discussed all things racing so without further ado, let’s jump straight into it!


Me: First things first, what made you get into horse racing?

Kian: So I like watching it on the TV and it’s the best sport and it’s so much fun because it is interesting when they have hurdles and fences.

Me: And when you went to Cheltenham last year, what was your favourite winner that you seen?

Kian: Shishkin.

Me: Do you think it will win again this year?

Kian: Yeah!

Me: What do you think is one horse that will definitely win at Cheltenham this year? What is the best horse going to Cheltenham this year?

Kian: I think Appreciate it for Willie Mullins.

Me: Do you think Willie Mullins will win another Gold Cup with Al Boum Photo or do you think something else will win?

Kian: I think something else will win it this year.

Me: Do you know who yet or have you not decided who yet?

Kian: I don’t now yet!

Me: And what about the Grand National, do you think Tiger Roll will win again?

Kian: I think Tiger Roll will win it again.

Me: And now, of course I have to ask you Kian, obviously Paddy Brennan is your favourite jockey, why do you love him so much?

Kian: Because he’s the best jockey in the whole wide world.

Me: And apart from Paddy, what other jockey’s do you like watching?

Kian: Connor Brace, Liam Harrison, Max Kendrick, Will Kennedy, Harry Skelton, Callum Rodriguez and Eoin Walsh. I like them all!

Me: And when you went to Cheltenham and you got to meet all the jockeys and trainers, who was your favourite person to meet?

Kian: Gary Windass.

Hannah: He met Gary Windass off Coronation Street and that’s all he ever goes on about! He was sat on the table next to us at Cheltenham and now that’s all he ever goes on about. Who was your favourite jockey to meet though?

Kian: PADDY!

Me: And when Paddy walked into your school Kian, how did you feel?

Kian: Amazed! I nearly fell of my chair!

Hannah: To be fair, only his class teacher, headteacher, me and my mom knew about it. The school had sent a letter out to get permission for other children to be on camera so Kian came home from school and said ‘aw we’re gonna be on camera but I don’t know what for. So me and my mom were saying ‘oh we don’t know what that is’. Then Barry from The Jockey Club had rang me and said if we ask people who wants a microphone on them do you think Kian will put his hand up and I said 100% yes he will, so when Barry came in and said we need a helper to have a microphone on do we have any volunteers, Kian put two hands up, he was making sure he got picked!

Me: How did it feel at Cheltenham Kian when everybody knew who you were?

Kian: Amazed! I had about 4 people ask for selfies!

Me: What was your favourite part of the day?

Kian: When the cameras were following me around.

Me: And of course you go down to Ravenswell to see Fergal and the team too, who’s your next favourite trainer aside from Fergal?

Kian: Erm… No one.

Me: Just Fergal?

Kian: Yes!

Me: How often do you go down to Fergal’s?

Hannah: It’s whenever we can get down there really, they’re 3 hours away from us, so when we go we have to set off at 4 in the morning…

Kian: We’ve gotta be down there for half 7!

Me: I was lucky enough to go down last year and I loved it down there. I think the whole team are just lovely to speak to.

Hannah: They are! They’re lovely. They’ve all got so much time for Kian as well and the Doc, Dr Simon is absolutely brilliant with him. They’re all just so nice.

Me: When you do go down to Ravenswell, who’s your favourite horse?

Kian: All of them!

Me: All of them? You don’t have a favourite?

Kian: No.

Hannah: He does… It is Imperial Alcazar?

Kian: Yeah!

Me: And what do you think when Fergal has a horse and he runs miles and miles ahead of all the others? He’s had quite a few that I’ve seen that just run off a million miles ahead!

Kian: I think what are you doing? Like Totterdown!

Me: So apart from Fergal’s horses, what’s your favourite horse you’ve watched?

Kian: Cue Card!

Hannah: When you watch your YouTube videos, what’s the race you always watch?

Kian: Cue Card winning the King George!

Me: And what race courses have you been to so far?

Kian: Everywhere!

Me: What one is your favourite?

Kian: Market Rasen!

Me: And obviously I know you get on really well with Doctor Simon and I seen the other day you was winding him up on Twitter about his cardigan, what did you think of his cardigan, have you seen it yet?

Kian: Not yet.

Hannah: What do you think of cardigans? Would you wear one?

Kian: NO!

Me: Do you think it will suit Doctor Simon wearing a cardigan?

Kian: NO!

Me: I feel like I have to ask you because Fergal is known to love his cakes, so what’s your favourite cake?

Kian: Victoria Sponge.

Hannah: You little fibber! You like chocolate cake!

Me: I seen on Twitter that you wrote a letter to Boris didn’t you?

Kian: Yeah and an email!

Me: Did you get a reply?

Kian: No! I wrote to Her Majesty the Queen!

Me: What did you say to the Queen?

Kian: About her horses.

Me: Do you watch flat racing and jumps?

Kian: I like them both!

Me: What’s your favourite flat race?

Kian: St Leger!

Me: And what’s your favourite jumps race?

Kian: Gold Cup! I remember when Paddy won it on Imperial Commander!

Hannah: You don’t remember it, you’ve seen the videos of it.

Me: And your mom’s always tweeting saying how you scream the house down whenever you’re watching the racing and now you have the biggest trending quote in racing…

Kian: GO ON PADDY LAD!

Me: Everybody shouts it now don’t they?

Hannah: When we were at Cheltenham and we were walking through people were stopping him to say go on Paddy lad! Even now when he goes into school people will shout go on Kian lad!

Me: What do you want to do next after lockdown?

Kian: Get back to racing!

Me: Where do you want to go next?

Kian: Every racecourse!

Me: Is that the plan? To do every racecourse?

Hannah: We’re going to try and go to Ireland too and see some Irish racing.

Me: Talking about Irish racing, I seen you met Gordon Elliott at Cheltenham too, what did he say to you?

Kian: Aye up Kian lad!

Me: Everyone just knows who you are!

Kian: And I met Ruby Walsh!

Hannah: When we first went through the gates Ruby Walsh was stood there and he said ‘hiya Kian’.

Kian: I spoke to Davy Russell, Nico de Boinville and Harry Cobden. I spoke to everyone!

Me: To finish off Kian, what are we telling everyone to bet on for Cheltenham?

Kian: Imperial Alcazar.

Me: And as Fergal’s assistant, do you know what race he’s going into yet or have you not decided?

Kian: We haven’t decided. I had a look and I think the 3 mile staying hurdle.

Me: With Fergal do you advise him on what to do or does he advise you?

Kian: I advise him!

Me: Thank you for talking to me today Kian!

Kian: Thank you!


Firstly I want to say a massive thank you to Kian and Hannah for having a chat with me, I thoroughly enjoyed our call and talking about all things racing. I think Kian is absolutely brilliant for the sport and I think he has a long future in the sport with whatever he chooses to do next.

And secondly, if you haven’t already seen, Kian has started up his very own blog and I highly recommend going over to his page to have a read of his work: https://theassistanttrainer.wordpress.com/.

Again thank you to Kian and Hannah for their time and I hope my readers enjoy this informal interview/chat as much as I have!