Whisper (blue silks) leads over the final flight to land the Coral CupPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Cheltenham Festival: Whisper by a whisker in Coral Cup stormer
Report: Cheltenham Festival, Wednesday
Coral Cup (Grade 3) handicap hurdle, 2m5f, 4yo+
WHISPER gave Sprinter Sacre's work rider Nico de Boinville an unforgettable Cheltenham memory when inching out champion jockey Tony McCoy and perennial Festival runner-up Get Me Out Of Here in a breath-taking finish to the Coral Cup.
The winning jockey, a former amateur still claiming 5lb as a badge of his inexperience, was all out on the 14-1 shot to hold a desperate charge from McCoy, who gave Get Me Out Of Here every ounce of encouragement in search of his first win of the 2014 festival.
Yet as in the 2010 Supreme Novices' Hurdle (neck), 2011 County Hurdle (nose) and 2012 Coral Cup (three and a half lengths), Get Me Out Of Here found one too good when it mattered most, going down by a short head to give De Boinville a first Cheltenham Festival triumph.
Victory also got champion trainer Nicky Henderson off the mark at the meeting as Whisper held on carrying the Walters Plant Hire Ltd silks of Dai Walters who also owns Oscar Whisky, a leading fancy for the Grade 1 JLT Novices' Chase on Thursday.
"He deserved it," said Henderson of the winner, the 51st Cheltenham Festival of the trainer's career.
"He got beaten a nose in the Welsh Champion Hurdle and that was frustrating. What's more he went up six pounds and I thought we'd thrown this out of the window as well. If we had been beaten a nose today I would have cried.
"Andrew [Tinkler] often rides this horse but I had to claim and Nico is a good rider with a claim."
Get Me Out Of Here returned 12-1 with Bayan third at 11-1 and Smashing fourth at 25-1. A place further back in fifth was Dell' Arca, the gamble of the race who was backed from 12-1 into 8-1 favourite.