WHEN you know how good something can be, it’s even more frustrating when it goes pear-shaped.
Fans of Goshen are all too familiar with this feeling.
Father and son team of Gary and Jamie Moore are no strangers to the ups and downs of this game. But no horse quite displays them as well as their Goshen.
An agonising fall with the Triumph Hurdle in his grasp, followed by a mediocre flat campaign did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm.
And when Goshen bounced back to a storming win in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, all of a sudden he would have another chance to do the talking on the biggest stage of all, the Champion Hurdle.
Sent off the 11-2 third favourite, Cheltenham sadly became an unhappy hunting ground once more for the Moores and owner Steve Packham.
Nearly two months down the line and Goshen has one final chance to show everyone what he’s truly made of.
He heads into the lions den of Punchestown to take on the unbeaten Honeysuckle and the likes of Epatante and Abacadabras.
His rider Jamie Moore is brutally honest when asked to talk up his chances in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle.
“Am I excited about it? It’s probably not how I’d describe it,” said the 36-year old.
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Moore has enough going on in his personal life than to get too wound up about a top-class hurdler.
Early this season he was taken to hospital with a broken back and his old man thought that might be his career done and dusted.
At the same time Moore’s wife was being treated for cancer and all of a sudden horses weren’t so important.
The jockey said: “We thought Goshen was well and firing before Cheltenham and it all went wrong, so we don’t let ourselves get excited now.
“We think he’s well again but we just don’t know, we’re probably living in hope now.
“Dad’s got another 100 or horses to worry about, not just this one.
“We’ve been in the game a long old time and we don’t let it get to us anymore.
“On his day he is a very good horse and we do believe in him, that’s why we’re going.
“With all the travelling arrangements these days with Brexit and COVID it’s not worth travelling them unless they’re any good, it’s a nightmare.
“So we are happy with him obviously, but we are taking a punt, we know that.”
This time connections hope they have worked out just went wrong at Cheltenham.
The five-year-old played up before the race and Moore reckons the horse is haunted by his previous trips to Prestbury Park.
He said: “These horses are cleverer than people think. When you work with them everyday you work out what they like, what they dislike and it can really get to them.
“It sounds silly but I think Cheltenham was just playing on his mind before the Champion Hurdle.
“He planted in the parade ring and just didn’t want to go out, he’s never, ever done that before. And then we finally got him out, he stopped out by the winning post.
“Obviously the time he had the heart problem happened at Cheltenham and he’s back somewhere where he’s had a bad experience before.
“And he’s always hung left, it’s always been an issue, but this was by far the worst and he was never going to be able to run his race.”
Punters seem to have given up on Goshen after a trail of defeats, but a return to a right-handed track might be the final straw to clutch. Stranger things have happened.
Moore added: “We do know he’ll be better right-handed, we definitely know that. We saw at Wincanton it can help.
“Ideally he always seems happier with a bit of cut, but good to soft would be perfect really. It is what it is, they’re all National Hunt horses and it’s the same for the lot of them so we’re not making excuses on that.
“We’ve got a lot of work on our plate, we know that. Honeysuckle was in a different league at Cheltenham.
“We’re going there just hoping he can run well, that’s all we’re thinking about going over there.”
Fairytale ending or not, it’s hard to think the Goshen story is finished just yet.
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