YESTERDAY'S Gold Cup Chase at Cheltenham was the stuff that dreams are made of. Best Mate was the odds-on favourite to equal the legendary Arkle's record of winning the Gold Cup in three successive years and there was really no reason why he and his jockey Jim Culloty should not do it. But only too often horse racing has a nasty habit of turning a dream into a nightmare. Remember the Queen Mother's Devon Loch who shied at a shadow when on the point of winning the Grand National? So watching Best Mate's progress yesterday was a nail-biting business, especially when he seemed to be bumped and boxed-in at the final turn of the three mile plus race. But his jumping was as secure as ever and Culloty's decision to keep his mount on the inside of the field from the start was justified. For the state of their health, many watching would have preferred to see Best Mate striding out majestically and alone from the final fence but he had to fight every stride of the way to the winning post to keep the outsiders Sir Rembrandt and Harbour Pilot at bay. There were some 60'000 specators at the Cheltenham course to see this wonderful triumph and it is probable that every single one there joined in the cheering that greeted Best Mate, his jockey and his trainer Henrietta Knight as they passed through the throng to the unsaddling enclosure. Betting did not come into it. What mattered for a sport that has had criticism and scandal of late was that on the loveliest of Britain's racecourses the best horse should win National Hunt's premier trophy for the third time in style. And that is exactly what did happen.