This has been an extraordinary Cheltenham, and we still have one day, a potentially wet Gold Cup day to come.
No one watching be it trackside or on TV could have been anything but spellbound by the Willie Mullins show on Tuesday and Faugheen’s Champion Hurdle marked a real changing of the guard.
Nor Don Poli’s romp to glory in the RSA Chase on Wednesday.
But in the space of one hour on day 3- usually the quietest of the week- we perhaps saw the biggest changing of the guard of all.
First Cheltenham acclaimed and roared as AP MCCoy made it Festival win number 31- a higher score on which retirement may beckon than many an England cricketer these days- on Uxizandre for his boss JP McManus.
Remember the horse- he unseated Barry Geraghty at Newbury in the race AP won and then announced his retirement.
Then in the very next race Gavin Sheehan, last season’s Champion Conditional Jockey (a title McCoy won 2 decades ago) copied the Champion by making all the running to land the featured Ladbrokes World Hurdle on Cole Harden- his first Cheltenham win.
A changing of the guard in the jockeys room? Sheehan looks to have the lot.
But were I a betting man I would wager the happiest and proudest person at Cheltenham so far this week was neither of them, or an owner or trainer. Pedar McCoy, Tony’s father joined him on the winners podium after the Ryanair Chase.
He makes very few public appearances, but this one was special- as the applause roared around the winners enclosure he must have realised the affection in which his son is held.
For the McCoy family that photograph will mean a lot- but so will Sheehan’s for his family.
First or 31st, there is nothing like winning at the Cheltenham Festival.
By Mike Vince