They say that records are made to be broken, and this week at Cheltenham old ones are being broken and new records set. On Tuesday we had Quevega winning a fourth consecutive Mares Hurdle, and today Alberta's Run attempts to win the Ryanair Chase for the third time in a row.
But the 2012 record that will stick in most people's minds is that achieved yesterday by Nicky Henderson, as he became trainer to have sent out the highest number of Festival winners. And he overtook Fulke Walwyn's total of 40 in the grandest of manners, with a four timer.
Henderson had equalled Walwyn score on Tuesday when Sprinter Sacre took the Arkle. Yesterday, Barry Geraghty and Simonsig helped him ahead with victory in the Neptune Novices Hurdle. The subsequent wins for Bobs Worth (RSA Chase), Finian's Rainbow (Queen Mother Champion Chase), and 40/1 chance Une Artiste in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle brought up a 3,381/1 accumulator.
In the process, Une Artiste showed she had the speed and attitude that might just provide Quevega with a real test next year – assuming she doesn’t go chasing.
Henderson said "It's lovely but I feel a bit overawed as you're talking about legends like Fulke Walwyn. I've been very lucky over the years I've got a great team at home and owners have sent me some lovely horses. It's all about the team, and it's been fun all the way."
Like him or not, Henderson is going to find he is a legend himself in a few years time, because at the age of 61 he could easily have another 10 years adding to his total of Festival winners. But yesterday he was looking back to the people who had inspired him. Wearing a tweed suit that had belonged to his late father, Johnny, without whom we may well have lost Cheltenham racecourse 50 years ago, Henderson said, “ "Dad and Fred Winter were the two most important people in my life. He (Winter) was my mentor, boss, tutor and everything."
It was, then, especially appropriate that Une Artiste’s win in the Fred Winter should enable Henderson to set his second record for the day by becoming the first trainer to have four winners in one day at the Festival.