Final flourish in County thriller
Ruby Walsh and Final Approach (10-1) foiled a massive gamble on Get Me Out Of Here to deny close friend Tony McCoy in a thrilling finish to the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Get Me Out Of Here, last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle runner-up, was backed from a morning price of around 16-1 into 7-1 as McCoy looked to add to his Thursday double.
Walsh was right at the rear of the field at the second-last flight, and was still way behind at the last aboard Willie Mullins' charge. It was not until halfway up the run-in that McCoy began to get really worried on Jonjo O'Neill's seven-year-old as Walsh flew at the finish to get up by a nose following a lengthy photo-finish.
There was a blanket for the minor honours, with the Philip Hobbs pair of Nearby and Cockney Trucker a respective third and fourth.
Walsh said: "I didn't think we were going to get anywhere near as close after the first. I don't know how we stood up. He stood so far off it and hit between the top bar and middle bar and smashed the hurdle wide open.
"He has done well to get back into it and he was good and gutsy from the back of the last. AP (McCoy) thought I'd got it, but I wasn't so sure - it was incredibly close. I thought maybe I had got there on the nod. You win some, you lose some."
Mullins added: "I thought we were beaten, even after watching the re-run. When the lads pulled up Tony looked happy but Ruby looked grumpy so I thought we were definitely beaten.
"The horse is improving all the time. He came from Kevin Prendergast and was a tough handicapper, which was they key to winning here and in the MCR Hurdle (at Leopardstown). I don't think he'll be running against Hurricane Fly in the Champion so we might have a look a couple of handicaps on the Flat in the autumn. He's very professional."
O'Neill took Get Me Out Of Here's agonising defeat firmly on the chin.
He mused: "We just needed a thicker finishing line. He's run a blinder and it's great to see him come back to form as he'd been so disappointing this season. It took us a while to find out what the problem was with him, but he had a little wind op about three weeks ago and that's obviously made a difference. I reckon he'll go to Liverpool, though I'm not sure what race, and he could go chasing next season."