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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 11 December, 2018
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Liveblog

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HELLO AND WELCOME to our Cheltenham liveblog, your one-stop shop to keep on track of all the key goings-on at Prestbury Park on day one of the 2018 festival.

The premise is simple. If your stuck in work or college or just not near a TV to watch the racing, we’ve got you covered.

Just subscribe to our results service using the button at the bottom of the page (for mobile devices only) and we’ll send you on the results of each race as they land.

Below is a reminder of today’s schedule, the 3.30 Champion Hurdle being the feature event of the afternoon. Nicky Henderson’s heavy favourite Buveur D’Air will hope to see off the challenge of Faugheen.

We’ve also highlighted the four Grade Ones on the card in bold.

1.30pm: Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

2.10pm: Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy

2.50pm: Ultima Handicap Chase

3.30pm: Unibet Champion Hurdle

4.10pm: OLBG Mares’ Hurdle

4.50pm: National Hunt Challenge Cup

5.30pm: Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

Just about 30 minutes to the opening race and the famous Cheltenham roar.

Getabird is the favourite for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 1.30 with Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh looking to get this year’s festival off to a flyer.

However, KalashnikovSummerville Boy and First Flow could well have plenty to say in the outcome.

And they’re off in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Summerville Boy wins the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Summerville Boy wins the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 8/1.

Second was Kalashnikov, while Mengli Khan finished third.

Here’s your 2018 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner, Summerville Boy.

32Red Day - Sandown Park Racecourse Source: Julian Herbert/PA Images

Full results:

1. Summerville Boy – 9/1
2. Kalashnikov – 5/1
3. Mengli Khan – 14/1

Only five horses go to post for the Arkle, the smallest field in the race’s history.

There is a lot of money coming late for Petit Mouchoir but Footpad remains the favourite.

Saint Calvados, Brain Power and Robinshill are the other runners.

Footpad wins the Arkle!

Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins secure their first win of the 2018 festival with a comfortable victory on Footpad (5/6f) in the Arkle.

That was absolute class from Walsh and Footpad to land the Arkle and he was able to cruise over the line at the end.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Full results:

1. Footpad – 5/6f
2. Brain Power – 14/1

The first handicap of this year’s festival is the Ultima Handicap Chase and the big mover is Vintage Clouds who has been backed in to 7/1 with Coo Star Sivola the 5/1 favourite in this three mile slog.

Coo Star Sivola wins the Ultima Handicap

The favourite Coo Star Sivola wins the Ultima Handicap Chase, just holding off Shantou Flyer at the line.

Just look how close this finish was:

Full results:

1. Coo Star Sivola (5/1F)
2. Shantou Flyer (14/1)
3. Vintage Clouds (7/1)
4. Beware The Bear (14/1)

Next up is the day’s feature race, the Unibet Champion Hurdle.

It all looked set up for Faugheen when he beat Jezki by 16 lengths around Punchestown last November but since then he was forced to pull up at Leopardstown in December and finished second behind Supasundae at the same venue last month after failing to find another gear in the closing stages.

Yorkhill (14/1) and Wicklow Brave (14/1) will attract each way interest, but Buveur D’Air (4/7) is clearly the one to beat.

Buveur D’Air retains the Champion Hurdle

Buveur D’Air wins the Champion Hurdle, just holding off Melon in second and Mick Jazz ran really well in third.

Here’s your back-to-back winner of the Champion Hurdle. It wasn’t pretty today, but he got the job done.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Full results:

1. Buveur D’Air (4/6F)
2. Melon (7/1)
3. Mick Jazz (25/1)

Phew. We’re just getting our breath back after that one and there’s still another Grade One to come.

Apple’s Jade might just be the banker of the festival but her 4/7 odds could well put a lot of backers off in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.

After victory for the same owner and jockey in the last race, there’s some late money for Jer’s Girl (10/1) while Walsh and Mullins will look to bounce back with Benie Des Dieux (4/1)

Benie Des Dieux wins the Mares' Hurdle

Benie Des Dieux wins the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle from Midnight Tour in second and the favourite Apple’s Jade in third.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Full results:
1. Benie Des Dieux (4/1)
2. Midnight Tour (33/1)
3. Apple’s Jade (4/7f)

We might be done with the Grade Ones for the opening day, but we’ve got a couple of very interesting handicaps to close proceedings.

First up is the National Hunt Challenge Cup for amateur riders and there’s little to suggest Rathvinden (9/2f) can’t keep a decent day for punters so far going.

But keep an eye on Anthony Honeyball’s Ms Parfois (11/2) who many think can outstay a big field. Jury Duty (9/2) and Mossback (13/2) are not without their chances.

Rathvinden wins the National Hunt Challenge Cup

9/2 favourite Rathvinden takes the National Hunt Challenge Cup for Willie Mullins with his son Patrick on board after Ms Parfois (11/2) pushed him all the way.

That was a cracking finish to what was a four-mile slog. That’s the treble up for Willie Mullins on the day too and a fourth winning favourite from six races.

2018 Cheltenham Festival - Champion Day - Cheltenham Racecourse Rathvinden heads down to the start. Source: David Davies

Full results:

1. Rathvinden (9/2)
2. Ms Parfois (11/2)
3. Sizing Tennessee (8/1)

After a cracking day of racing, it’s hard to believe that we’re on to the lucky last already.

The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase is run over two miles, four furlongs and there is a lot of buzz around Any Second Now, the 5/1 favourite.

Given how well the favourites have been performing so far — only Getabird has failed to place — it’s not unreasonable to think the six-year-old can win this race.

However, Mister Whitaker (6/1) and De Plotting Shed (13/2) have both been highly fancied in the build up.

The race is off at 5.30pm.

Mister Whitaker wins the lucky last

Mister Whitaker (6/1) takes the last in perhaps the most dramatic finish on a day of dramatic finishes.

Brian Hughes’s mount just edges Rather Be on the line in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase.

That was an appropriate finish for the day’s racing we’ve just had, a huge effort from Mister Whitaker seeing him home right on the line.

Full results:

1. Mister Whitaker (13/2)
2. Rather Be (12/1)
3. Rocklander (25/1)
4. Barney Dawn (15/2)

And that’s it from us, thanks as always for joining us.

We’ll be back tomorrow for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase which promises to be a three-way battle between Altior, Douvan and Min.

About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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