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Henderson history as Buveur D'air storms home to claim Champion Hurdle

Irish trainer Gordon Elliott has also started the Cheltenham Festival with a bang, claiming a hat-trick on day one.

Image: David Davies

Updated at 17.15

NICKY HENDERSON AND Gordon Elliott have been the big winners on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival with the former claiming a record sixth Champion Hurdle and the Irish trainer scoring an impressive hat-trick.

Henderson had an afternoon to remember thanks to wins from the odds-on Altior in the Arkle before Buveur D’air claimed a sixth success in the Tuesday feature for the trainer.

In what was his 57th winner at the meeting, Henderson’s second favourite Buveur D’air, in the colours of Limerick man JP McManus, stormed home under Noel Fehily to take the day’s main event in style.

Buveur D’air — which vindicated Henderson’s decision to bring him back from steeplechasing to hurdles — was also McManus’s 50th winner at jumps racing’s showpiece event.

Henderson and owner McManus claimed a remarkable one-two in the Champion Hurdle, with My Tent or Yours (16/1) finishing in second spot under Aidan Coleman.

Petit Mouchoir came home in third for Henry de Bromhead with Bryan Cooper on board.

Buveur D’air was an extremely popular winner at Prestbury Park and crossed the line just 30 minutes after Henderson had witnessed Altior claim an impressive Arkle triumph, although it was perhaps not quite as emphatic a performance as some had expected of the hot favourite.

The afternoon’s Mares’ Hurdle was another cracker as the three clear market leaders — Willie Mullins’s Rich Ricci-owned duo of Limini (6/4f) and Vroum Vroum Mag (11/4), and Elliott’s Apple’s Jade (7/2) — battled it out up the hill.

And it was the diminutive Apple’s Jade, in Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown colours, which showed the greatest determination to get home first under Cooper, one and a half lengths clear of Paul Townend in second, which finished a nose ahead of Ruby Walsh and Limini.

It was a second victory of the day for Elliott following a surprise success for Jack Kennedy aboard Labaik (25/1) in the first race of the day, the Supreme Novices’ Chase.

Elliott then completed a remarkable first-day hat-trick as Lisa O’Neill steered Tiger Roll (16/1) to an excellent victory in the four-mile Grade 2 JT McNamara National Hunt Chase, which also secured a double for O’Leary.

It’s been a remarkably slow start for the usually peerless combination of Mullins and Walsh, although there is still plenty of time for them to get off the mark and assert their dominance once again.

Results:

Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (13.30)

1. Labaik (25/1) Jack Kennedy/Gordon Elliott
2. Melon (3/1 j-f) Ruby Walsh/Willie Mullins
3. River Wylde (8/1) Nico de Boinville/Nicky Henderson

Racing Post Arkle Chase (14.10)

1. Altior (1-4f) — Nico de Boinville/Nicky Henderson
2. Cloudy Dream (12-1) — Brian Hughes/Malcolm Jefferson
3. Ordinary World (25-1) — Davy Russell/Henry de Bromhead

Ultima Handicap Chase (14.50)

1. Un Temps Pour Tout (9/1) – Tom Scudamore/David Pipe
2. Singlefarmpayment (5/1f) — Adrian Heskin/Tom George
3. Noble Endeavor (15/2) — Davy Russell/Gordon Elliott
4. Buywise (33/1) — Adam Wedge/Evan Williams

Stan James Champion Hurdle (15.30)

1. Buveur D’air (5/1) — Noel Fehily/Nicky Henderson
2. My Tent or Yours (16/1) – Aidan Coleman/Nicky Henderson
3. Petit Mouchoir (6/1) — Bryan Cooper/Henry de Bromhead

OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (16.10)

1. Apple’s Jade (7/2) — Bryan Cooper/Gordon Elliott
2. Vroum Vroum Mag (11/4) — Paul Townend/Willie Mullins
3. Limini (6/4f) — Ruby Walsh/Willie Mullins

JT McNamara National Hunt Chase (16.50)

1. Tiger Roll (16/1) — Lisa O’Neill/Gordon Elliott
2. Missed Approach (50/1) — Warren Greatex/Noel McParlan
3. Haymount (33/1) — Patrick Mullins/Willie Mullins
4. Arpege D’alene (12/1) — William Biddick/Paul Nicholls

The complete chancer’s guide to getting through the Cheltenham Festival

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