Liam Treadwell celebrated his maiden Cheltenham Festival victory and declared: It was amazing.
The 27-year-old jockey from Arundel won a West Sussex duel with Lower Beeding rider Jamie Moore to claim a stunning success in the Byrne Group Plate on 50-1 outsider Carrickboy.
Trained by Venetia Williams, the nine-year-old Silver Patriarch gelding made just about every yard to take the prestigious Grade 3 contest from the 11/1 Vino Griego.
Having finished sixth in the race last year, it was a sweet return for all involved – none more so than Treadwell.
He said: ‘I’ve come close before but to finally win here is amazing.
‘What a buzz I got out there. He jumped from fence to fence, I was able to get a blow into him and he was game up the hill for me.
‘His jumping was key because I did not want to press on too soon. It’s great for Venetia and the team, they’ve had such a good year and a winner here as well is great.’
Treadwell is no stranger to winning against all the odds.
He partnered Mon Mome to a famous 100/1 victory in the 2009 Grand National at Aintree. A career in the professional ranks has not been plain sailing for the former Junior Great South Run runner-up since then, though.
He has struggled to gain a regular foothold in a yard but was grateful to a lifeline from Williams – who helped him during his days as a conditional jockey – last summer.
‘I couldn’t be happier,’ he added.
‘During the summer I was mucking out for (trainer) Ed De Giles when Venetia rang me up and said “what do you think you’re going to do?”.
‘I didn’t know but she said “if you come and ride out for me, there’s a space here” and I’m so grateful for the chance.’
Vino Griego, trained by Gary Moore, finished one-and-a-half lengths adrift as West Sussex toasted a one-two in the £50,000 contest.
Treadwell’s triumph came shortly after the feature race on the card – the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
With Big Buck’s injured, 17/2-chance Solwhit claimed the Grade 1 title.
However, Celestial Halo – who landed the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell in 2011 – led approaching the last, only to crash his way through it and hand the advantage to the Irish raider.
Celestial Halo, who like Big Buck’s is owned by Andy Stewart, was second.
Earlier, Benefficient won the Jewson Novices’ Chase at 20/1 and Holywell took the Pertemps Final at 25/1.
Fontwell bumper winner Cue Card claimed the Ryanair Chase at 7/2 and Same Difference was the 16/1 winner of the Kim Muir.