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Relief for Altior as Labaik and Apple’s Jade shine at Cheltenham

| 14.03.2017

The talk beforehand was that this promised to be the most surprising Cheltenham Tuesday in years, and so it proved to be as the festival got underway.

Things got off with a bang right from the opening race. The famous Cheltenham roar welcomed in the 2017 festival, and Labaik confidently landed the Supreme Novices Hurdle at having varied between 25/1 and 33/1 in the build-up.

Ridden by Jack Kennedy, the Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old sat confidently in the pack before kicking to the front approaching the last.

Pre-race favourite Melon came home second two lengths behind, while Ballyandy, well-backed throughout the morning, failed to feature at the sharp end.

Altior came home to claim the Arkle, but the big favourite didn’t have it as easy as many expected.

A gallant run by Charbel threatened to upstage the 1/4 fancy, but a fall at the last put paid to any hopes of an Altior upset.

We had a thrilling conclusion to the Ultima Handicap Chase, and a second favourite of the day was beaten as Un Temps Pour Tout edged Singlefarmpayment by a neck in a scintilatting race.

All eyes then turned to the Champion Hurdle, where favourite Yanworth disappointed thousands of backers – but brought joy to the bookies – while Buveur D’Air romped home to a popular win at 5/1.

And old favourite My Tent of Yours rolled back the years to come home second, producing a handy each-way return at 18/1.

Nicky Henderson’s second winner of the day was particularly notable…

And no, we hadn’t forgotten to mention Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, but it proved to be a tough day for the famous duo.

Many expected both to land a winner in the Mares’ Hurdle, but despite Mullins entering both Limini – with Ruby aboard – and Vroum Vroum Mag, Apple’s Jade quite literally split the pair to land a superb double for Gordon Elliott.

And capping a remarkable Tuesday hat-trick for Gordon Elliott, 16/1 shot Tiger Roll landed the National Hunt Chase.

Here’s hoping for more thrilling racing tomorrow!

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Richard Marsh

Richard loves his sport, especially if it involves the sound of tyres screaming around a race track. He's not fussy though and his '90s Premier League nostalgia and knowledge of team nicknames is tough to match.