IT MAY HAVE been a difficult run-up to the Festival, but Ireland are 1-0 up at Cheltenham.
17-year-old Jack Kennedy on Labaik won the first race of the week, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle.
Trained by Gordon Elliott, the grey six-year-old was a 50-1 shot this morning and went off at 25-1.
“Words can’t describe what it’s like,” Kennedy told ITV Racing. “I was probably a little bit far back but they went a good gallop. It couldn’t have gone any better.”
“It’s brilliant, it’s great. I’m over the moon with it,” he told Racing UK. “i’ll be going home a very happy lad at the end of the week now, whatever happens.”
Ruby Walsh on favourite Melon was beaten into second.
1. Labaik (25/1) Jack Kennedy/Gordon Elliott
2. Melon (3/1 jf) Ruby Walsh/Willie Mullins
3. River Wylde (8/1) Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville