"It's a bit like being a decent tennis player and you end up playing for real on Centre Court at Wimbledon," Sam Waley-Cohen says as he tries to explain how it feels, as an amateur jockey, to be defending the Gold Cup he won on Long Run at Cheltenham last year.
Kauto Star established himself as the finest performer in the history of the King George VI Chase, and perhaps as the best steeplechaser that National Hunt racing has seen, when he won the feature event on the Boxing Day card here for the fifth time on Monday.
A full week before New Year's Eve, it appears horse racing will be wrestling with a hefty hangover as it enters 2012, the result of one bad story too many over the past 12 months.
Here they come, puffing up the side of a Berkshire hill, Long Run, Binocular and 34 other hardy-looking sorts, much slower than the zippy little rats that have entertained us this summer but tough enough to do two or three miles in the mud every month between now and March.
Here's the latest from our Highly Placed Professional.