EXACTLY 10 years ago my friends and I were lucky enough to stand in the winner’s enclosure at Cheltenham after Benefficient won the Jewson Novices’ Chase (now the Turners).

Coming over on the plane from New York this week, I turned to one of our crew and said “That will never happen to us again”. Little did I think it would happen just a few days later.

Niall Reilly, Charlie Gavigan and myself are based in New York, where we work in construction and own a few bars. We’ve been coming to Cheltenham for 35 years. There’s eight of us over for the week and we met up with another 10 once we arrived.

We backed Good Time Jonny at 33/1 for Cheltenham last Christmas, even before he ran in the Leopardstown qualifier. But our hearts sank when the rain came this week. Driving through deep puddles as we left Birmingham Airport, I said “We are done for”. The horse didn’t act on soft ground last year, he just doesn’t go through it.

I couldn’t believe he was only 10/1 on the morning of the race, given the ground, his weight and the strength of the opposition.

In the morning we walked out to the last hurdle where Tony Martin was giving Liam McKenna detailed instructions. “When you come down the hill, fill him up,” Tony said. “You will be 10 or 12 lengths down but the rest of them will go wide into the straight and they will lose six lengths. You keep left, just inside the wing of that fence. If you are within eight lengths of them going to the last, you will win. This horse will jump for you and stay all day.”

In the race itself, Liam was so far back that I couldn’t see how he could win. But once they turned for home I could see Tony’s plan being played out in front of me and I started to hope. Sure enough, it all worked out, just as it did in 2013 when Tony was just as confident about Benefficient.

Tony is unbelievable. We bought Good Time Jonny out of Denis Cullen’s yard after a schooling race. Within a few days Tony told us this horse would not come into his own until he went three miles. How right he was.

From Listowel to Leopardstown, York to Melbourne, and of course Cheltenham, Tony has provided us with some incredible days. On Saturday morning we will head back to New York where there will be more celebrations – everyone we know there backed it as well.

And then we’ll wait for word from Tony before we start planning our next trip home, maybe for Punchestown or Galway.