Day one of this year’s Cheltenham Festival – also known as Champions Day – is now done, dusted and ready for review. And, it has to be said, it wasn’t a very good day for the favourites, nor the punters who backed them, with Epatante the only front-runner to win one of day one’s big races.
If you’re looking for the racing results from yesterday, or just wanting to refresh your memory ahead of the rest of the Festival, then read on!
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade One)
The bookies had this down as a two horse race between 9/4 favourite Asterion Forlonge and Gordon Elliott-trained Abacadabras. However, the former jumped badly throughout and, despite heading towards the last, was quickly outpaced by the leaders, resulting in a fourth place finish. Abacadabras, on the other hand, headed steadily into the final 100 yards, but was just held by eventual winner Shishkin – who was ridden by Nico de Boinville and trained by Nicky Henderson.
1) Shishkin 6-1
2) Abacadabras 11-4
3) Chantry House 15-2
Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade One)
Favourite Notebook was heavily tipped to be jockey Rachael Blackmore’s first winner of the Festival. However, the seven-year-old never really got into the race and struggled to keep up with the leader’s two hurdles out. Similarly, the Henry de Bromhead-trained horse weakened after the last and finished in a disappointing sixth place. Instead, 16/1 outsider Put the Kettle On led for most of the race and held-off second-favourite Fakir D’oudairies by just over a length to scoop the Arkle Challenge Trophy.
1) Put The Kettle On 16/1
2) Fakir D’oudairies 3/1
3) Rouge Vif 9/1
Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade Three)
The Ultima Handicap Chase was the first race of the day were the favourites managed to land a placed-finish. Discorama, who lost his right-fore shoe, along with Vinndication, set-off as 11/2 joint-favourites, although they could do no better than a third and fourth place finished, respectively. It was The Conditional and Kildisart who were left in contention for the Grade Three race towards the home straight, and the former who held-off the 10/1 outsider by just a neck.
1) The Conditional 15/2
2) Kidisart 10/1
3) Discorama 11/2JF
Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade One)
The favourite Epatante, who was ridden by Barry Geraghty, gave owner J.P McManus the perfect birthday present, landing him his ninth Champion Hurdle victory in Tuesday’s showpiece. The 2/1 favourite, who also awarded trainer Nicky Henderson with a record-breaking eighth victory, was always in contention, and after jumping the last strongly, he raced up the hill to beat Sharjah by a comfortable three lengths.
“JP is sourcing this talent and he supports the game at every level,” said Geraghty.
“The birthday cheer he got today reflects what people think of him because he is a top-class man.”
1) Epatante 2/1F
2) Sharjah 16/1
3) Darver Star 17/2
Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Grade One)
Honeysuckle, who gifted Blackmore her first victory of this year’s meeting, got the better of odds-on favourite Benie Des Dieux in a thrilling finish for the Close Bothers Mares’ Hurdle. De Bromhead-trained Honeysuckle was unbeaten in her last seven outings, although the run was expected to be ended by the 2018 Mares’ Hurdle champion Benie Des Dieux. However, no matter how hard jockey Paul Townend tried to push the Willie Mullins-trained horse into the lead on the home straight, she just couldn’t keep up with the sheer pace of Honeysuckle – who went on to win by just half-a-length.
“I’m delighted with Honeysuckle – it was a superb performance to go and beat Benie Des Dieux,” de Bromhead said afterwards.
1) Honeysuckle 9/4
2) Benie Des Dieux 4/6F
3) Elfile 16/1
Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed Race)
Imperial Aura gained the lead two out from the finish, alongside Precious Cargo, although the latter fell at the last hurdle. Joint-favourite went on to Galvin gain some ground, making it a nervy finish for the Kim Bailey-trained horse, but Imperial Aura stayed strong and won comfortably by over three lengths.
1) Imperial Aura 4/1JF
2) Galvin 4/1JF
3) Hold The Note 10/1
National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase (Grade Two)
12/1 outsider Ravenhill landed trainer Elliott with his first win of the Festival in the Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase. Jockey Jamie Codd, who had won the race twice previously, stayed patient on the 10-year-old before allowing him to challenge the pace-setting Lord Du Mesnil. The pair were neck-and-neck as they jumped the final hurdle, but Ravenhill had a bit more gas left in his tank, winning by just over two lengths. Favourite Carefully Selected was never really in the running, especially after a dodgy jump at the last, unseating jockey Patrick Mullins.
1) Ravenhill 12/1
2) Lord Du Mesnil 11/2
3) Lamanver Pippin 33/1