Ruby Walsh became the seventh jockey to win the Champion Hurdle on two or more occasions since 1980. He joins AP McCoy, Conor O'Dwyer, Jonjo O'Neill, Peter Scudamore, Steve Smith-Eccles and Charlie Swan on this illustrious list.
The younger brigade is lining up against the nine-year-old, headed by two highly-promising Festival novice winners in Our Conor (Triumph) and The New One (Neptune).
Our Conor, only four, was so utterly dazzling when thrashing his rivals that you couldn't help but think that he'd have been a plausible opponent for Hurricane Fly this season.
Traditional thinking has it that Triumph Hurdle victors are up against it in the following campaign, but Countrywide Flame, third behind 'The Fly', showed that's not always the case, and he's another one sure to be back for more in 2014.
I'm not saying he would defeat a returning Big Buck's, but this horse, four times a runner-up behind Hurricane Fly, has plenty of class, together with versatility, and could be relied upon to make a race of it.
At Fishers Cross is also emerging in the staying hurdles division, and looked a real young professional in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle, while Oscar Whisky's World Hurdle bolt looks shot.
Worth his weight in gold: Bob's Worth repeat?
Gold Cup winner Bob's Worth,
and the runner-up Sir Des Champs, were the top Festival staying novices last year, and with luck they will renew rivalry in 2014 and for some years to come.
Bob's Worth clearly relishes the Cheltenham challenge, especially the final hill, and coped with the rain-softened going, while Sir Des Champs seemed less happy. Both would prefer drier conditions.
That's five from five on the track for Bob's Worth, including a Festival hat-trick, rare for comprising three different races, and it would be no surprise to see him make a triumphant return next time.
Long Run, the 2011 winner, and The Giant Bolster were, like 12 months ago, gallant frame-fillers, and it's hard to imagine either making up the ground needed to overcome the first two.
Sir Des Champs' stablemate Boston Bob came down at the last in the RSA Chase when going strongly, and he'll quite likely be aiming at the Gold Cup, as will RSA winner Lord Windermere, a relentless galloper.
Bryan Cooper: the next Ruby?
There's no doubt 2013 was the year that jockey Bryan Cooper, 20, burst into the wider consciousness with his first three Cheltenham Festival winners.
Despite the pressure of being on board one of the Irish 'bankers', Our Conor, the son of trainer Tom Cooper showed maturity way beyond his years, steering the horse to a wide-margin victory.
And those skills clearly extend beyond the saddle with the ex-pony racing rider, who aged 10 'led up' his father's runner Total Enjoyment when she won the Festival Bumper, shining in media interviews.
When asked about being 'heir apparent' to Ruby Walsh, Cooper based with Dessie Hughes, trainer of Our Conor, replied that "of course he was flattered" and "would be pleased to be half as good".
Good young jockeys come and go, but those that vanish don't often ride trebles at Cheltenham: he's destined for big things.
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