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Mixed results for Ruby and Mullins on the opening day at Cheltenham

The pair cruised to victory in the two of the four Grade Ones.

Ruby Walsh brings Footpad home to win the Arkle.
Ruby Walsh brings Footpad home to win the Arkle.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

RUBY WALSH AND Willie Mullins will have mixed emotions following the opening day of the 2018 Cheltenham festival.

The pair won two of the four Grade Ones on offer but had to watch both Getabird and Faugheen suffer emphatic losses.

The latter was nowhere to be seen come the business end of the feature race — the Unibet Champion Hurdle — while the former could not justify his favouritism in the festival opener.

That race, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, became a three-way battle between Kalashnikov, Mengli Khan and Summerville Boy after the final jump with the latter — trained by Tom George and ridden by Noel Fehily, taking the honours.

Noel Fehily onboard Summerville Boy comes home to win Summerville Boy wins the opener. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

However, Walsh and Mullins would bounce back in second to claim the Racing Post Arkle Trophy with Footpad.

Undefeated in three starts over fences before today, the six-year-old held his nerve as Petit Mouchoir and Saint Calvados raced into a 10-length lead in the early stages.

As that pair tired, Walsh eased his mount to the front with three left to jump and the 5/6 favourite ran out a comfortable winner over Brain Power in second.

Walsh and Mullins regrouped from their Champions Hurdle disappointment to upset the odds-on favourite Apple’s Jade in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.

Gordon Elliott’s charge looked beaten three out and had to settle for third as Benie Des Dieux held off the long shot Midnight Tour to give Walsh and Mullins their second winner of the day.

Cheltenham Day One Results

1.30pm – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
1. Summerville Boy – (9/1)
2. Kalashnikov – (5/1)
3. Mengli Khan – (14/1)

2.10pm – Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy
1. Footpad – (5/6F)
2. Brain Power – (14/1)

2.50pm – Ultima Handicap Chase
1. Coo Star Sivola (5/1F)
2. Shantou Flyer (14/1)
3. Vintage Clouds (7/1)
4. Beware The Bear (14/1)

3.30pm – Unibet Champion Hurdle
1. Buveur D’Air (4/6F)
2. Melon (7/1)
3. Mick Jazz (25/1)

4.10pm – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle
1. Benie Des Dieux (4/1)
2. Midnight Tour (33/1)
3. Apple’s Jade (4/7f)

4.50pm - National Hunt Challenge Cup
1. Rathvinden (9/2F)
2. Ms Parfois (11/2)
3. Sizing Tennessee (8/1)

5.30pm - Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase
1. Mister Whitaker (13/2)
2. Rather Be (12/1)
3. Rocklander (25/1)
4. Barney Dawn (15/2)

As it happened: Day 1 of Cheltenham 2018

Buveur D’Air retains his Champion Hurdle crown, but only just

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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