My favourite five from the 2015 Festival
And in the blink of an eye Cheltenham 2015 is over.
Below, I put forward what I think were the five best moments of the Festival. Let me know below in the comments section what your best five were.
Counting down from five.
The race commentators.
Mike Cattermole, Ian Bartlett, Richard Hoiles, Mark Johnson at the course, John Hunt on Radio 5 and Simon Holt on Channel 4. Their craft is a unique one as they have to steadily build up the drama within their words, use their tone to stir us, pinpoint the placing of key horses and describe significant moments. At the same time they need to be ready for any eventuality. In the end though it’s their words that define each race to be replayed over and over again. To you all, thank you for exhilarating us once more.
Team Coneygree, for they rolled the dice of chance and chose not to use the words “if only”.
A fairytale which started with “Once upon a time” ended with the most amazing “Happily ever after”. It wasn’t as if we hadn’t seen it all unfold at Kempton on Boxing Day, then at Newbury in the Denman Chase. Why wouldn’t we let ourselves believe? Thank goodness the Bradstocks did. Roll on Gold Cup 2016 Coneygree v Don Poli v Vautour – it should be a belter.
The Willie Mullins effect - his record-breaking eight winners will be a bar very hard to surpass yet he’ll challenge himself to do it as soon as next year. To think, his horses had a bearing on the FTSE with bookmakers’ share prices tumbling at the thought of a four-timer. Annie Power’s stumble is likely to remain the most expensive in betting history. But who would bet it won’t be rectified come next year? Bookmakers brace yourself.
All those who clicked through the turnstile for record attendances each and every day, I thank you, and if you can come next year you must. This is pure theatre, pure drama and excitement made so much more by the adulation and passion of those watching such stirring sport. I’ve never known such decibel levels of cheers for each and every race, and will never forget the reception given to our sport’s greatest hero as he rode back on Ned Buntline for the final time. I never knew you could melt iron, but in this case a strong man did weep.
It couldn’t really be anyone else other than AP McCoy. He has literally represented a generation and how fitting it was to see him on the front page of the Daily Telegraph on Cheltenham Gold Cup day. He has left his sport’s greatest stage, never to be forgotten. He created history, as much as he is part of it, and we are all privileged to be part of the McCoy years. Cheltenham 2015 should be remembered for one thing, AP McCoy’s farewell and I can say I was there.