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'Khadijah's victory made it feel as though we were all winners'.

Last Thursday's Magnolia Cup at Goodwood was a challenge for the 12 riders. Racing Post reporter Kitty Trice, who rode the Chris Gordon-trained Alketios, reflects on the experience The build-up From a physical and mental perspective the Magnolia Cup was one of the hardest challenges I have ever faced. Full-time jockeys have to overcome nerves and battle outside pressures and that is a major reason why race-riding is so challenging.

I felt sick - that's how anxious I was - it was probably the equivalent of taking my A-level exams. Time flew. One minute it was 10.30am and we were weighing in, the next it was 20 minutes before the race.

Some of the other riders used earphones to get in the zone or to stay calm beforehand. But eventual winner Khadijah Mellah looked how I felt - completely terrified. Luisa Zissman, on the other hand, was there for anyone in need of support.

In the hustle and bustle of the weighing room you felt the adrenaline and nervousness. There was a feeling of anticipation on stepping into the parade ring where my sponsors William Grant & Sons greeted me. They could not have been friendlier and simply encouraged me to enjoy it - I remember trying to smile, but it would not have looked convincing.

Through this experience I have learned how mentally composed you have to be as a jockey, what with discussing last-minute tactics with the trainer and owner and taking in the fact you are the centre of attention once you are given the leg-up.

Just standing in the parade ring was hard and it would not have surprised me if I had keeled over through sheer terror. Chris Gordon's presence reassured me, even when I asked him to lengthen the stirrups!

Focusing on the job in hand drove out the nerves once I was in the saddle and seeing and hearing spectators waving, smiling and shouting words of encouragement not only galvanised me, but made me feel like Frankie Dettori.

The race There was not much time to make decisions - particularly as the race was over just five and a half furlongs.

The start is one of the most important elements as you can win or lose the race in a split-second d if you are slow to get going, and that is just what happened to me, along with one of the other jockeys.

My tactics had seemed simple, but were quickly turned upside down. I had intended to make a quick start and settle close to the lead, but a second's hesitation cost us and we were pretty much tailed off. My brother joked that I had been trying to pull off a Jamie Spencer-style hold-up ride, but my slow start did help in one way - it took the pressure off as I was well behind.

I had expected Alketios (named Dufftown Dancer for the race) to pick up the bridle, but I had to give him a couple of Pony Club kicks from around two furlongs out. That was a shock to the system - it was like opening a shaken-up fizzy drink.

When race-riding is done brilliantly it can look straightforward, but after a five and a half furlong contest my legs felt like jelly at the line and my arms ached. It brought home just how physically fit these riders are - I don't know how some have seven rides on one card before heading to an evening meeting for several more.

The aftermath While I was disappointed to finish last I couldn't be down for long after such a brilliant and historic success for Khadijah. Tears were streaming down her face and her fairytale victory made it feel as though we were all winners.

The overwhelming feeling on returning to the unsaddling enclosure accompanied by 'well-dones' and cheers was one of relief and euphoria.

After months of preparation, hard work, sweat and tears I had completed the challenge.

It was simply overwhelming to take part in the Magnolia Cup and to experience a day in the life of a jockey. Reading the coverage, which was on the front page of several newspapers, felt even more surreal. It was a real glimpse of fame, and the whole occasion is one I will always treasure.

'My legs felt like jelly at the line and my arms ached - I don't know how some riders have seven rides on one card'
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Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 5, 2019
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