Pacha Du Polder again as he carries injured Harriet Tucker to an amazing success
Harriet Tucker might not be the first amateur to have a festival win on her first ride at Cheltenham, but it's highly doubtful anyone before her did it on just their second ride under rules, and it will almost certainly be unprecedented to have done so with a "half-dislocated" shoulder, as Tucker did on Pacha Du Polder.
Twelve months ago Andy Stewart's 11-year-old thrust Bryony Frost into the limelight and the year before he gave Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton one of the thrills of her sporting life when finishing fifth.
Tucker, who produced Pacha Du Polder late on the run-in to deny gallant 50-1 front-runner Top Wood, will do well to enjoy the fame of her predecessors, but this was a ride she will remember for the rest of her life.
The 22-year-old, who has ridden five winners from five rides in point-to-points this season, including two on Foxhunter fifth Caid Du Berlais, was understandably elated.
She said: "It's amazing. A dream come true, and I can't believe it. I've just won the Foxhunter. This is mad."
Reliving the race, she added: "I thought he wouldn't like the ground and I just wanted to get round, but coming to about five out I was thinking, 'Jesus, I'm still going'.
"I had to get past the loose horse and when I got to the bottom of the hill I thought, 'Jesus, I've got more in the tank'.
"We got over the second-last and it was, 'Oh my God, he's got more'. Then he just kept going, just kept finding more."
The shoulder issue, she revealed, is not a new one, but it prevented her from using her whip.
She explained: "My shoulder sometimes half-dislocates when I reach it too high and it did it when I was coming to the second-last. I couldn't push it back in, so therefore I couldn't slap him down the shoulder.
"I was just pushing and screaming and praying that nobody would come and beat me because of the shoulder."
Paul Nicholls, for whom this was the second successive year he has had to wait until the Foxhunter for a first success of the meeting, was hoarse from shouting.
The trainer, who finished the festival with a flourish as he later won the closing Grand Annual, said: "We've struggled all week and it's nice to have a winner. But forget me – for Harriet and the horse it's just superb. It's a life-changing moment for her."
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