Cole Harden triumphed in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival March 12, denying retiring champion jockey Tony McCoy a success in the only big race of the meeting that he has never won.
But McCoy will not leave his final Cheltenham Festival empty-handed after taking Uxizandre from pillar to post in the Ryanair Chase.
McCoy's At Fishers Cross was fourth in the World Hurdle as 14-1 shot Cole Harden delivered a first Cheltenham victory for trainer Warren Greatrex and jockey Gavin Sheehan.
Cole Harden finished 3 1/4 lengths ahead of Paul Nicholls-trained 5-1 favorite Saphir Du Rheu, whose stalemate Zarkandar was third.
A 6-year-old son of Westerner, the Irish-bred Cole Harden races for Jill and Robin Eynon. A winner in five of 12 starts, who did not make his first start until age 4, Cole Harden's previous stakes success came in the Bet 365 West Yorkshire Hurdle.
Greatrex was left fighting back the tears after the grade I World Hurdle, considering all he had been through with the stable star.
A particularly disappointing effort in January's Cleeve Hurdle caused Greatrex to take immediate action, and following a breathing operation, the horse provided his trainer and Sheehan with a first taste of Festival success.
"I'd like to think I'm quite a cool customer, but it's all gone wrong and it turns out I'm (crying) like a girl," Greatrex said. "The Duke would have been kicking me. I'm never short of words, but I'm shocked. I can't believe it. The wind operations worked hasn't it?"
Cole Harden raced along on an easy lead until Sheehan gradually wound up the pace and it was clear after jumping the second flight from the finish the capitulation the other riders were perhaps anticipating was not going to happen.
Cole Harden galloped on relentlessly to the final flight, skipped over in style, and bounded clear up the famous hill as he raced to victory.