A stunning week for Rachael Blackmore at the Cheltenham Festival was completed on Friday as she became the first woman to secure the coveted top jockeys' award.
Six wins – including a history-making victory aboard Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday – have seen the 31-year-old rocket to the summit of the sport.
Friday began with her fifth Grade One win and sixth overall when she guided Quilixios to victory in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
The Tipperary native missed out on Minella Indo in the Gold Cup, choosing his stablemate A Plus Tard, who came in second, but lifting the Ruby Walsh Trophy will be a reasonable consolation for Blackmore.
"It's unbelievable," she said after legendary former jockey AP McCoy presented the prize. "I share a house with Patrick Mullins and he’s got a McCoy trophy, so we’re now going to have both AP McCoy and Ruby Walsh on the mantlepiece!
"It’s phenomenal. I can’t even comprehend being leading rider in Cheltenham. Getting an award from AP McCoy in the shape of Ruby Walsh – that’s crazy!
"It’s been a brilliant week. Henry de Bromhead is just an incredible trainer and I’m just part of that team and getting on those horses.
"Honeysuckle is definitely the standout moment of the week for me. She’s extremely special and was phenomenal in the Champion Hurdle – and I got a great thrill off Allaho (in the Ryanair Chase).
"I just walked into the weighing room there and saw my mother on ITV – I don’t know how that happened!
"It’s a shame my family can’t be here, but it’s the same for everyone. I hope everyone at home has texted WellChild and donated – those are the things in life that really matter.
"I was hoping I’d get one winner – every jockey thinks like that. When you get one, it’s some weight off your shoulders and everything is a bonus then after that."
Asked if it will change her life, she said: "I’m still in the bubble of it now. I don’t know what’s going to happen."
On the Gold Cup, she added: "My mask was up after the race, so you couldn’t see my expression!
"I’m delighted for Henry and the team – they’ve had some week.
"I rode the wrong one, (but) I can’t complain too much."
Paying his tribute to Blackmore, De Bromhead said: "We all know how good Rachael is and we feel lucky to have her on our team. She's riding out of her skin.
"Eddie O’Leary (Gigginstown House Stud racing manager) recommended her to me about three years ago. We said we’d try it out on the Gigginstown horses and within two or three months she was riding all of ours.
"She’s a good person, works really hard and is a brilliant rider."
She is the first woman to win the title but Ruby Walsh believes Blackmore would not like that to be the focus.
"I think the wider world will see her now as what she wants to be – just a jockey," said the RTÉ 2FM Game On host.
She will be welcomed home tomorrow at Thurles, with her mother Eimir telling RTÉ's Morning Ireland that she is garnering serious attention at home.
"The phone is melting with text messages. People are saying she is the 'Queen of Cheltenham'. I am delighted people are getting joy out of it. Horse racing needs it," she said.
Willie Mullins clinched the leading trainer title from De Bromhead on countback as Galopin Des Champs won the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, the final race of the meeting.
Sent off an 8-1 chance, the five-year-old benefitted from a fine ride by Sean O'Keeffe to foil Langer Dan's bid for a £50,000 bonus.
Mullins was in no doubt that Allaho’s effortless 12-length victory in Thursday's Ryanair Chase provided him with his crowning moment for this year, with the trainer already turning his thoughts to next year’s Champion Chase over two miles.
He said: "Allaho stands out a mile, I think.
"After racing yesterday I was thinking he looked like a King George horse, but when I analysed it, I started thinking we should maybe aim for a Champion Chase instead.
"The way he jumps so slick and so fast, I think we could bring him back in trip – and we could try two miles at Punchestown."
While Mullins enjoyed plenty of success, he did have disappointments, too, with Chacun Pour Soi only third as a hot favourite in the Champion Chase while another odds-on shot, Concertista, was collared on the line in Tuesday’s Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.
Mullins’ dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo had to settle for third in his attempt at a hat-trick.
The trainer said: "We had an in and out sort of week, but it came good in the end.
"I always think 33% of favourites win, so I was thinking we might have four or five winners this week and I was hoping for more.
"To have six winners is great. I suppose Concertista got beat and Chacun Pour Soi got beat. Al Boum ran a cracker, but it wasn’t to be.
"A few of our hotpots got beat, but then some other horses came up, and I think we’ve had seven seconds and five thirds."
The meeting ended with Ireland taking the Prestbury Cup with 23 winners to just five for Britain.