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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 18 February, 2019
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Liveblog

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Hello and welcome to today’s Cheltenham liveblog, your one-stop shop to keep on track of all the key goings-on at Prestbury Park today.

Stuck in work and unable to see the racing? Don’t worry, 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 Altior will also be courting plenty of attention in the Arkle at 2.10.

Here’s a reminder of today’s schedule:
13.30: Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
14.10: Racing Post Arkle Chase
14.50: Ultima Handicap Chase
15.30: Stan James Champion Hurdle
16.10: OLBG Mares’ Hurdle
16.50: JT McNamara National Hunt Chase
17.30: Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase

The ‘Cheltenham Roar’ is just over 20 minutes away, are you having a punt or just watching for the entertainment?

Melon and Ballyandy are the two main fancies in the first. Can Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins make a winning start with the former?

And remember, you won’t find the action on RTÉ or Channel 4 this year, ITV have taken over and TV3 will also be showing their coverage.

Tips — good, bad or indifferent — are welcome in the comments section below.

Ed Chamberlain being flanked by Mick Fitzgerald and AP McCoy, rather than Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville, will take getting used to.

“Will it be Melon for starters,” he bellows out with gusto.

How long has he waiting to deliver that line?

There are 14 runners in the Supreme Novices’.

Ballyandy (11/4 j-f) and Melon (11/4 j-f) are the clear market leaders but there’s been plenty of money for Bunk Off Early (7/1), River Wylde (8/1), Crack Mome (11/1) and Cilaos Emery (16/1) too.

Labaik takes Supreme Novices' for Elliott and Kennedy

That’s a first Cheltenham Festival winner for Dingle 17-year-old Jack Kennedy and 1-0 to Ireland.

Gordon Elliott gets one over on Willie Mullins first up too, in a thrilling finish.

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

The next race on the agenda is the Arkle at 2.10, and Nicky Henderson’s Altior looks an unbackable favourite at 2/9.

Mullins and Walsh team up with Royal Caviar (7/1) which has received plenty of each-way attention.

Charbel (8/1), Cloudy Dream (12/1) and Forest Bihan (14/1) are currently next in the betting in the nine-strong field.

Here is that thrilling finish to the Supreme Novices’ in case you missed it.

If that TV3 Twitter video isn’t playing on your mobile, try this Facebook clip from Cheltenham Racecourse:

Hot favourite Altior claims Arkle glory

 

Arkle result:

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

That wasn’t as straightforward as expected. Charbel seemed to be giving Altior a good run for its money before coming down at the second last.

Next up is the Ultima Handicap Chase at 2.50 which has 23 runners.

There has been a lot of talk about favourite Singlefarmpayment in the build-up which is currently priced in and around 5/1.

There has also been plenty of interest in Holywell, Noble Endeavor, The Druids Nephew and Un Temps Pour Tout.

You can see Altior’s impressive finish in the video below.

On the double: Un Temps Pour Tout wins the Ultima Handicap Chase again

A photo finish in the Ultima in another cracking race.

Top-weight Un Temps Pour Tout wins it for Tom Scudamore and David Pipe, just edging out race favourite Singlefarmpayment.

Davy Russell finished a creditable third on Noble Endeavor for Gordon Elliott.

Ultima Handicap Chase:

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

Less than 25 minutes to go until the big one now.

Who do you fancy for the Champion Hurdle?

Going by our poll, favourite Yanworth is out in front but plenty of you are also keen on Petit Mouchoir, Brain Power, Moon Racer and Buveur Dair.

Now that is what you call a tight finish; three miles and one furlong later and barely a nose hair between the front two.

Buveur D'air lands the Champion Hurdle for Henderson and Fehily

Another cracking race at Prestbury Park as Nicky Henderson claims his record sixth Champion Hurdle.

Buveur D’Air travelled home in style to see off the challenge of Sceau Royal and Petit Mouchoir.

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

That was in fact My Tent Or Yours that finished second, apologies for the error which was lost in all the excitement.

The Mares’ Hurdle is about to get under way. Limini, Vroum Vroum Mag and Apples Jade are well ahead of the rest in the market.

Did Ruby pick the right one?

Apple's Jade claims Mares' Hurdle for Elliott and Cooper

Another cracking finish at Prestbury Park. Apple’s Jade was surrounded by Willie Mullins’s two star mares but dug in so well to claim a second festival win of the day for Elliott.

Mares’ Hurdle:

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

It’s been a remarkable day of action already. And while the big races may be finished, we’ve still got a Grade 2 and a Listed race to come.

Nicky Henderson and Gordon Elliott will be particularly pleased with their afternoon’s work, while it’s been a strangely slow start to the festival for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.

Tiger Roll claims JT McNamara National Hunt Chase in another win for O'Leary

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

That’s a hat-trick for Gordon Elliott and a second victory of the day for Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary. It also makes it Ireland 3 England 3 after six races on day one.

Just one to go now and that’s the Listed Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at 17.30.

Tully East runs to Novices' Handicap Chase glory

Significant early departure for favourite Foxtail, as Tully East closes proceedings at Cheltenham with a win. Three winners in a row for the Irish.

1. Tully East (8/1) D F O Regan/Alan Fleming
2. Gold Present (14/1) Jeremiah McGrath/Nicky Henderson
3. Two Taffs (7/1) D N Russell/Dan Skelton
4. Powersbomb (22/1) JJ Codd/Brian McMahon

So that’s a wrap for Day 1.

Tiger Roll ridden by Lisa O'Neill wins Lisa O'Neill and Tiger Roll ran to victory in the JT McNamara National Hunt Chase. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

 

Jack Kennedy onboard Labaik celebrates winning Jack Kennedy on Labaik following their win. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Gordon Elliott leads the Top Trainer contest with three winners, one more than Nicky Henderson. There have been some great stories:  17-year-old Jack Kennedy winning the first race of the week on 25-1 Labaik to Willie Mullins ending the opening day of the Festival without a winner.

That’s all from us. Thanks for reading and make sure to tune in again tomorrow.

About the author:

Alan Waldron

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