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The Winner's Enclosure: Jezki cruises as Champagne bubbles burst by Warhorse

Tragedy clouded the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

AND WE’RE OFF! The 2014 Cheltenham Festival is under way.

And not a moment too soon. We had a big cumbersome €20 note burning a hole in a trouser pocket this morning, but thankfully Western Warhorse came along in the 2.05 and ensured I would be burdened by money no longer.

Who needs cash, after all, when you’ve got the best damn horse racing schedule on the planet right in front of you?

Tweet of the Day

Joey Barton put down his Proust for a few minutes to (metaphorically) mingle with the rest of us peasants. And after Kevin Doyle generously tipped his aul’ boy’s horse to win big at 10/1 in the 2.40, Joey was made up.

joey-barton-47

Making history not enough for Walsh and Mullins

Dust off that Rolling Stones tape your bought with the winnings of your first ever bet, because Tuesday was a day for Ruby.

Ruby Walsh walks the course Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

He and Willie Mullins enjoyed the best possible start to the festival with Vautour controlling the Supreme Novices Hurdle and it became a double success for the pair when Quevega left it late to romp past  Sirene Dainay on its way to a sixth Cheltenham title.

Tragedy

A severe back injury during the day’s big race, the Champion Hurdle, brought the life of Irish bred champion Our Conor to an end.

The Dessie Hughes trained horse began the Champion Hurdle as 5/1 fourth favourite and led in the middle stages before the fall. The course’s veterinary staff reportedly treated the five-year-old extensively, before taking the decision to put the horse down.

The big winner: Jezki

Jessica Harrington and JP McManus took the day’s big plaudits with 10/1 shot Jezksi winning out in the Champion Hurdle.

Paddy Kenny on Jezki 10/3/2014 Jezki on the gallops yesterday. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Barry Geraghty’s mount came into the final stages third, but well placed behind Captain Cee Bee, My Tent or Yours and Hurricane Fly. With three fences to go, the inboard motor really began to kick in and Geraghty guided the six-year-old to a stunning victory over My Tent or Yours and The New One.

Biggest loser: Champagne fever

The Arkle Chase began with two heavily-backed joint favourites, but neither paid dividends for punters.

Instead, it was David Pipe’s  33/1 shot Western Warhorse who came up with the goods, pipping Ruby Walsh on Champagne Fever in a thrilling finish. 

Very sporting

Swansea ‘keeper Michel Vorm can’t lose in those shades

Horse Racing - 2014 Cheltenham Festival - Champion Day - Cheltenham Racecourse Source: Joe Giddens

Sean O’Brien was ecstatic to see photographer Dan Sheridan

Sean O'Brien Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Full results:

1.30pm: Supreme Novices Hurdle: 1st Vautour 7-2jf, 2nd Jossies Hill 14-1, 3rd Vaniteux 11-1.2.05pm: Arkle Chase: 1st Western Warhorse 33-1, 2nd Champagne Fever 11-4jf, 3rd Trifolium 11-4jf.
2.40pm: Baylis & Harding Handicap Chase: 1st Holywell 10-1, 2nd Ma Filleule 16-1, 3 The Package 16-1.
3.20pm: Champion Hurdle: 1st Jezki 9-1, 2nd My Tent Or Yours 3-1, 3rd The New One 10-3.

4pm: David Nicholson Mares Hurdle: 1st Quevega 8-11, 2nd Glen’s Melody 14-1, 3rd L’Unique 25-1.
4.40pm: National Hunt Chase: 1st Midnight Prayer 8-1, 2nd Shotgun Paddy 7-2, 3rd Suntiep 9-1.
5.15pm: Novices Handicap Chase: 1st Present View 8-1, 2nd Attaglance 10-1, 3rd Pendra 8-1

Blinkers on, here’s what’s coming up tomorrow

The big race on Wednesday is the Champion Chase with Barry Geraghty on Captain Conan and AP McCoy on Kid Cassidy.

Should be a thriller.

Ruby Tuesday: 13 pics from the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival

‘He’s a favourite of mine’ — trainer Jessica Harrington revels in her first Champion Hurdle win thanks to Jezki

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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