Since Tony McCoy won the conditional jockeys' title in 1995, setting the highest number of winners in the process, he has taken a wrecking ball to the record books. The latest in his sights is his 4000th winner, which not even Nostradamus would have predicted when the man from Co Antrim won a handicap hurdle on Chickabiddy at Exeter in September in 1994.
Some shrewd judges quickly realised this was a rare talent in the making, and since then McCoy has delivered the most compelling evidence that he is the best of all time.
It was in 1971 that Stan Mellor became the first jump jockey to ride 1000 winners, finally calling a halt at 1035. From there the linear progression took John Francome to 1138, Peter Scudamore to 1678 and Richard Dunwoody to 1699. McCoy has already matched the number of titles won by Francome, Scudamore and Dunwoody combined.
The world has changed over those 42 years and jump racing has evolved, with a longer season and the advent of agents ensuring that the top jockeys get the best rides in greater numbers than ever before. That would go a long way to explaining how Richard Johnson has racked up nearly 2700 winners but does not account for McCoy's extraordinary career, which has reached such a peak that he stands comparison with the all-time greats of Flat racing.
Seb Sanders became 19th Flat jockey to ride 2000 winners in Britain this year but he and Willie Carson (3828) have been left trailing, which leaves only Lester Piggott (4493), Pat Eddery (4632) and Sir Gordon Richards (4870) between McCoy and a summit that a jump jockey should not even be able to see much less reach.
McCoy has reached out to retrieve more lost causes than St Jude with his victory on Wichita Lineman at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival probably the pick. Wichita Lineman, who was more dour stayer than speed merchant, had been taking the tourist route, collecting bits of at least three fences before hitting the third-last.
Still McCoy persevered round the home turn, because he knows no other way, but the punters had already spoken. When Maljimar, the leader, jumped the last five lengths ahead, he traded at 1.06 (1-16) in running on the Betfair betting exchange, while Wichita Lineman was matched at a high of 60 (59-1). But that reckoned without the matchless McCoy who urged, cajoled and powered his horse up the final hill to win by a neck.
"I actually feel a little bit guilty," McCoy said later. "As much as people think I gave him a good ride that day at Cheltenham, he showed an enormous will to win and what he did was more about him than it was about me. He never got the credit he deserved. He never looked like winning but, when he turned to come down the hill, I felt that he was going to win."
That indomitable belief - a will to win which treats the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the selling hurdle at Plumpton with equal importance - has been one of the most potent weapons in McCoy's armoury, along with a pain threshold that suggests he had nerve-endings removed at birth.
Trying to dissect just what sets McCoy apart, the X-factor, is not easy but there was a telling insight from a slate-grey day at Cheltenham in April 2000.
His face was the ghostly pallor of a man who might have forgotten what the sun looked like. The unbuttoned racing silks hung loosely on a frame so spare it would have taken three square meals before it could be called thin. That sorry effect was completed by a bandage wrapped around McCoy's right wrist, the legacy of the latest brush with gravity, and he was favouring his left leg after a fall in the Grand National a couple of weeks before.
Looking more in need of a day in bed, McCoy had just spent another purgatorial hour in a sauna followed by four rides around Prestbury Park. By 4pm he had even been muttering giving up his last ride of the day. Why not? McCoy had already ridden 1000 winners in half the time it had taken anyone else, what did one more ride matter?
Oh but it mattered to McCoy, which is why he stiffened the sinew, summoned up the blood, went out to ride Country Store and came back with yet another winner.
McCoy has retained his most cherished possession, the championship, from all-comers, but knows the one adversary even he cannot hope to defeat is time and the approach of his 40th birthday in May has come at a point when his own approach is changing. Well, a little at least.
Family life - he became a father for the second time in August - means the man who used to beat himself up over every loser with more ferocity than a heavyweight boxer now sees there is more to life - until he gets on to a race course. Then he simply maintains that relentless pursuit of the next winner. That is when you see the real McCoy. We should enjoy him while we still can.