1. ITV Report

Favourite relaxed ahead of 'intense' Gold Cup

Amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen celebrates after winning the Gold Cup race at Cheltenham one year ago. Photo: Reuters

Just a few hours before one of the most prestigious races in the horse racing calendar, the jockey charged with riding the bookies' favourite has told ITV News he has to try to relax before what is always an "intense" occasion.

When asked about the duel between his horse, Long Run, and champion contender Kauto Star, Sam Waley-Cohen told ITV News, "it's not a question of which horse is the greater, it's who is going to win today."

Kauto has a great legacy behind him, but we hope we can be the ones to take on his great mantle.

– Sam Waley-Cohen, Long Run jockey

Long Run is currently the 2-1 favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which gets underway at 3.20 today.

Trainer and owner Robert Waley-Cohen, the jockey's father, wasn't concerned with concealing his excitement, telling Rupert Evelyn that he feels "like a child on Christmas morning - you wait 365 days, and here it is!"

He described last year's victory as an "ecstatic" moment. The Gold Cup is the "holy grail of British racing," he said.

Jockey Sam Waley-Cohen is pictured here with Kate Middleton at a charity roller-disco organised by Holly Branson in 2008. Credit: Rex Features

Waley-Cohen Jnr is a close friend of the Duchess of Cambridge - and was even credited in some reports with matchmaking the royal couple.

Still an amateur jockey, he runs the Portman Healthcare chain of dental practices, which he founded in 2008.