Cheltenham groans as Ruby denied magic foursome with final fence fall
It was the realisation of every punters' worst fears.
Legendary jockey Ruby Walsh was looking for a clean sweep in four races after taking the initial three at Cheltenham.
With a record attendance of 63,249 for the opening day at Prestbury Park packed into every available space, it seemed that the Kildare jockey was set for a glorious day, too.
On board favourite Annie Power and leading the pack with one fence left to jump in the in OLBG Mares' Hurdle, his mount came a cropper and fell head first at the last with the finishing post in sight.
What an expensive nose fall it was as groans and gasps from the crowd echoed across the Irish Sea: the falter is estimated to have cost punters millions. Nevertheless, trainer Willie Mullins and Walsh can't have any complaints after day one of the world-renowned event.
The Irish duo combined to win three out of four races including the main event on opening day - the Champion Hurdle - with Faugheen. Ruby's dad, Ted Walsh, was among the first to hug the winning jockey after the big race.
Afterwards, a delighted Mullins said: "Ruby said he was going to make it and win it and this is beyond our wildest dreams.
"It is too good to be true."
Walsh's other winners for Mullins-trained entries came from Douvan and Un De Sceaux. Mullins said he has one other task remaining for the rest of the week - "to try and stay sober".
"It has been a remarkable day and one that will never be repeated in my career," he said in the parade ring.
Ruby admitted it was a special day.
"You build your whole year around it. You are taking about planning, the horses are working so well. It is brilliant. Big days like this are not easy to come by," he said.
"It is a huge team effort and all the people at home. We brought just over 50 horses here - that is a huge team of people still at home. We have so many good staff. Everyone pulls together."
In total, five Irish winners came in yesterday on a very satisfactory sunny spring day for travelling racing enthusiasts.
Plenty more of that, please.