The 2009 Cheltenham Festival came to an end after producing yet another sensational four days. Now as the National Hunt road show moves on to Aintree next month, racing enthusiasts will harbour memories of this Festival for the rest of their lives.
There were so many fantastic performances, starting the first day victory of Go Natives in the Supreme Novices Hurdle and concluding on the fourth day with the most sensational Gold Cup performance ever witnessed, when Kauto Star became the first horse ever to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
In between there was a new star born in Padydaplasterer who won the Arkle Trophy Chase, but it was the victory of Punjabi in the Champion Hurdle that set the first day alight when he fought tremendously hard to hold off the challenges of Celestial Halo and the favourite and stablemate, Binocular.
The second day saw the return of the imperious Master Minded who strolled to a second Queen Mother Champion Chase, underlining his status as the highest rated horse in the Natioanl Hunt. Before that race Cheltenham witnessed the rise of a potentially new superstar in the form of Cooldine, who won the RSA Chase in emphatic style and who now is already being touted as a Gold Cup horse next season.
Amongst the many highlights on Day three were Imperial Commanders victory in the Ryanair Chase over hot favourite, Voy Por Ustedes and Big Bucks, who held off the challenge of Punchestowns to claim a first World Hurdle for champion trainer, Paul Nicholls.
Eclipsing all those memorable races however was the victory of Kauto Star in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. It will be a race that will be talked about for decades, with Kauto winning comfortably over his nemesis and stable mate Denman. Denman's second place will be regarded just as highly as his victory in the race last year due to his long absence off track after recovering form heart surgery.
Ruby Walsh proved himself arguably the best jump jockey in the world after finishing the Festival with an incredible haul of seven wins. His English boss, Paul Nicholls was top trainer with five wins, while his biggest rival, Nicky Henderson won four races. Roll on the 2010 Cheltenham Festival