These five moments will certainly endure for years to come.
Bryony Frost & Frodon win hearts and minds alike
Selecting a top moment at the Cheltenham Festival is often a difficult task but this fabulous pair certainly rose to the summit on Thursday as they landed the Grade 1 Ryanair chase.
Two fences out the duo looked beaten but the grit and determination showed by both jockey and horse emphasised what a formidable partnership the duo have become.
Following the race, Bryony’s outpouring of emotion must have left even the hardiest racing fan with a lump in their throat. She enthused “He’s got his day. He is Pegasus, he has got wings. He is the most incredible battler. He travelled, my God he jumped,” before going onto say “And look at him. He is just perfection and determination. If you can’t think it, you can’t do it. Just look at what he’s just done there. Tell me, deny me that he doesn’t love racing. He’s unbelievable. I love you, mate”
Paisley Park wins for Emma Lavelle and Andrew Gemmell
Thursday’s stories didn’t stop there as Stayers’ Hurdle hot favourite Paisley Park romped home for Emma Lavelle’s relatively small yard and much talked about Owner Andrew Gemmell, an increasingly recognisable face in the winners’ enclosure.
Owner Gemmell was in dreamland following the race “I can’t believe this has happened and I’m just so chuffed – it’s fantastic!
“He’s in the Big Buck’s/Baracouda mould – he hits that flat spot but comes again. I was so nervous and can’t believe it’s happened.”
Altior notches win number 18 to tie Big Bucks
There are very few certainties in life; death, taxes and Altior winning over fences. Last beaten in 2015 the nine-year-old gelding’s unbeaten streak is now a remarkable 18 on the spin. Nicky Henderson’s charge found an extra gear to power up the Cheltenham Hill in landing the Queen Mother Champion Chase in back-to-back years.
Jockey Nico De Boinville enthused “What an absolute monster and aren’t we lucky to be in an age where he’s here.We should just celebrate him. He’s a phenomenal athlete – he doesn’t know how to lose.”
Noel Fehily rides his last Cheltenham winner
This year’s festival was to be Noel Fehily’s last, although no one knew this as he and Eglantine Du Seuil charged up the hill to pip Close Sutton stablemate Concertista in a thrilling finish to the Mares’ Novices Hurdle.
After the race an emotional Noel Fehily stated “This will be my last festival. I’ve enjoyed every minute of riding horses and I’m going to miss it,” as the moved 43-year-old, wiping away tears.
“It’s going to be tough walking away. I’ve loved doing it but it’s a great way to bow out.”
Up until now the Cheltenham Festival’s winning-most trainer had miraculously never got his hands on National Hunt racing’s most prestigious prize, the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup. Over the years he had saddled plenty of contenders and compiled an astonishing six second place finishes but none had prevailed when it truly mattered. That was up until 3:35 on Friday afternoon as Al Boum Photo flew the last and surged clear under the urgings of Paul Townend.
The perennial Irish Champion Trainer admitted “I sort of resigned myself to never winning a Gold Cup. Certain jockeys may never win the feature race of their lives, like the Grand National or the Champion Hurdle. I thought maybe I’m not going to be lucky,”
Recalling the performance of his now Gold Cup winner Mullins recalled “He met the last perfectly and I looked up at winning post and what was behind,”
He went onto say “I knew that 99 times out of 100 he was going to make it this year.”