Updated at 17.50
WHAT A DIFFERENCE a day makes.
This time yesterday all the talk was about a changing of the guard in Irish racing as Gordon Elliott claimed his fifth Cheltenham Festival winner and Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh were left scratching their heads after an underwhelming performance from Douvan.
It summed up a frustrating opening two days for the Prestbury Park kingpins but order has been restored today as the pair have teamed up for four wins — a trio of Grade 1 successes, including the day’s feature race, the Stayers’ Hurdle with Nichols Canyon and a Grade 2 victory.
The star National Hunt duo began the day as they meant to continue, landing the JLT Novices’ Chase with Yorkhill (6/4f).
Un De Sceaux (7/4f) then excelled in the Ryanair Chase before Nichols Canyon (10/1) completed the hat-trick.
Lets Dance (11/8f) then continued that trend in the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle with a commanding performance which was owner Rich Ricci’s first win of the festival.
The duo had a number of high-profile disappointments during the first two days of the Cheltenham Festival but have steadied the ship with an excellent Thursday afternoon.
Douvan was the star attraction yesterday but failed to deliver in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, finishing unplaced and was later found to be lame.
Their loyal followers breathed a massive sigh of relief when Yorkhill (6/4f) cruised home in the first race of the day, appearing to have plenty in hand despite the best efforts of Top Notch (7/2) and Disko (4/1).
“He slipped taking off at the first down the back and when he landed I thought ‘your luck could be in today’,” Walsh said of Yorkhill after the race.
“Everything can’t go your way all the time and you have to prepare for that.”
The day then got even better for the duo when Un De Sceaux pulled out a superb performance in the Ryanair Chase to win from Sub Lieutenant (8/1) and Aso (40/1).
Walsh put the foot down early on and the rest of the field couldn’t live with the talented nine-year-old who cruised to an 18th win from 23 starts.
It also marked a milestone win for Mullins, the Grade 1 success being his 50th at the festival.
Walsh then claimed the 55th festival victory of his career, timing the finish to perfection aboard Nichols Canyon to defeat Lil Rockerfeller (33/1) and Unowhatimeanharry (5/6f).
It wasn’t long before Walsh made it 56 either as Lets Dance justified her favouritism with victory in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
Today has also continued a remarkable festival for the Irish raiders, winning the first six races this afternoon and they currently lead the race for the Prestbury Cup 14-7.
13.30 JLT Novices’ Chase
1. Yorkhill (6-4f) — Ruby Walsh/Willie Mullins
2. Top Notch (7/2) — Daryl Jacob/Nicky Henderson
3. Disko (4-1) — Bryan Cooper/Noel Meade
14.10 Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle
1. Presenting Percy (11-1) — Davy Russell/Pat Kelly
2. Barney Dwan (16-1) — Paddy Brennan/Fergal O’Brien
3. Jury Duty (9/1) — Jack Kennedy/Gordon Elliott
4. The Tourard Man (66/1) — Kevin Dowling/Alan King
14.50 Ryanair Chase
1. Un De Sceaux (7/4f) — Ruby Walsh/Willie Mullins
2. Sub Lieutenant (8/1) — David Mullins/Henry de Bromhead
3. Aso (40/1) — Charlie Deutsch/Venetia Williams
15.30 Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle
1. Nichols Canyon (10/1) — Ruby Walsh/Willie Mullins
2. Lil Rockerfeller (33/1) — Trevor Whelan/Neil King
3. Unowhatimeanharry (5/6f) — Noel Fehily/Harry Fry
16.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plater Handicap Chase
1. Road To Respect (14/1) — Bryan Cooper/Noel Meade
2. Baron Alco (10/1) — Gary Moore/Jamie Moore
3. Bouvreuil (12/1) — Sam Twiston-Davies/Paul Nicholls
4. Thomas Crapper (7/1) — Charlie Poste/Robin Dickin
16.50 Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
1. Lets Dance (11/8f) — Ruby Walsh/Willie Mullins
2. Barra (12/1) — Bryan Cooper/Gordon Elliott
3. Dusky Legend (20/1) — Wayne Hutchinson/Alan King
4. Verdana Blue (25/1) — Jeremiah McGrath/Nicky Henderson
17.30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase
1. Domesday Book (40/1) — Gina Andrews/Stuart Edmunds
2. Pendra (16/1) — Charlie Longsdon/Derek O’Connor
3. Premier Bond (9/1) — Sam Waley-Cohen/Nicky Henderson
4. Potters Legend (10/1) — Lucy Wadham/Michael Legg
5. Mall Dini (11/2) — Katie Walsh/Pat Kelly
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