On Tuesday, horse racing celebrates the birthdays of Bryony Frost, Paddy Brennan and Jonjo O’Neill – three icons of their craft who have enjoyed glory at the top level of the sport, especially at Cheltenham.
Meanwhile, Frost is a three-time Grade 1 winner at the age of just 26, with her most recent moment of stardom arriving on Boxing Day when Frodon was a remarkable winner of the King George at Kempton Park.
Brennan, on the other hand, has enjoyed a fruitful campaign as stable jockey for Ravenswell Farm and brought up 80 winners for the season earlier today at Newton Abbot – his best individually since 2016/17.
But as with every jockey in National Hunt, the Cheltenham Festival supplies something more unique than what is perhaps found elsewhere and a victory at Prestbury Park during its biggest four days in March can make a season.
For Bryony, Paddy and Jonjo, their finest moments in the plate both took place in Gloucestershire.
The warrior Frodon has recorded an incredible six wins at Cheltenham during his career, but his finest hour arrived in the 2019 renewal of the Ryanair Chase.
A stellar contest featured previous Festival heroes Un De Sceaux, Road To Respect and Footpad, but unlike last month, it would be the British-trained representatives who would come to the fore in a battle for the ages up the famous hill.
Venetia Williams’ Aso was a sizeable price in the market, but he would be the one to throw down the challenge to the Ditcheat charge.
As usual, a gutsy display from the front began to look a tentative position turning for home, with Charlie Deutsch bringing his mount to the front.
But Frost and her beloved son of Nickname would fight back, never knowing when they were beaten, battling bravely to give trainer Paul Nicholls a second Grade 1 at that year’s Festival after Topofthegame’s victory the day before.
Bryony became the first female to ride a top-level winner at the Festival over obstacles.
33 years earlier, it would be a lady in equine form who would make history as Dawn Run became the first, and only, horse to win a Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup.
Two years following on from her timber glory for the late Paddy Mullins, she would take the blue ribbon event in 1986 under Jonjo O’Neill, beating a cast that included three-time King George hero, Wayward Lad.
O’Neill had guided the mare to her win at both her Festival winning visits, replacing long-term partner Tony Mullins.
But it proved a move that would not come back to bite owner Charmain Hill, as the legendary star did indeed “get up”.
Almost as iconic, though, as Paddy Brennan’s cheeky celebration as Imperial Commander saw off Denman in the 2010 renewal of steeple chasing’s biggest prize.
The titanic duo Kauto Star and Denman, both previous Gold Cup successors, were expected to dominate proceedings in the contest 11 years ago.
Brennan and Commander, however, had other ideas.
Kauto had seemingly put Nigel Twiston-Davies’s gelding in his place in the King George, but they’d overturn the form at Cheltenham with a destructive display a year on from victory in the Ryanair Chase.
The tenacious Denman, as ever, would prove a tough nut to crack but the younger legs soon told on the run-up to the line.