Cheltenham Day One Recap: Willie Mullins Leads The Way

Martin Green

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 6:38 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2019 6:38 PM UTC

We review the first day at the Cheltenham Festival, which saw high-profile fallers in the big races.

<p>Thousands of punters were left cursing their luck at Cheltenham today as two heavily backed horses fell in agonising circumstances. Buveur D’Air was gunning for a third straight victory in the Champion Hurdle but he fell at the third hurdle to blow the race wide open. Gavin Cromwell’s 16/1 shot Espoir D’Allen went on to claim an unlikely triumph and many punters were ripping up tickets as favourite Apple’s Jade also faded. But that was nothing compared to the horror show in the Mare’s Hurdle, where Ruby Walsh suffered a nightmare fall on Benie Des Dieux at the final fence.</p><p>The favourite had a comfortable lead and was all set to cruise to a third straight victory in the prestigious race, but she came crashing down with nobody around her. It came exactly four years after an almost identical incident that saw Walsh surge clear at the last on short-priced favourite Annie Power and have the Mares’ Hurdle in the palm of his hand, only to fall. Dan Skelton’s Roksana, a 10/1 shot ridden by his brother Harry, gobbled up the opportunity and claimed a famous victory. Willie Mullins claimed second and third in the race with Stormy Ireland and Good Thyne Tara.</p><p>The Irish maestro made a superb start to the day when Klassical Dream landed the Grade 12 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He then made it two out of two as Duc Des Genievres surged to victory in the Arkle, one of the most prestigious races of the year. Next up it was Nicky Henderson’s turn to shine as Beware the Bear seized the Grade 3 Ultima Handicap Chase. Henry de Bromhead got off the mark for the Cheltenham Fesrival when A Plus Tard won the penultimate race of the day. Ben Pauling’s 14/1 shot Le Breuil then won the National Hunt Challenge Cup to wrap up the day.</p><p>It means there were no wins for Gordon Elliott, who was named leading trainer at Cheltenham last year with a record equalling eight victories. Mullins still has several strong runners in the remaining three days of the festival and he looks a good bet at 10/11 (1.91) with <a href=";a=a710bfac-73c1-4a57-b441-2caf1b9f397b" target="_blank" title="William Hill">William Hill</a> to be named leading trainer. Before the festival began, he was 7/2 (4.50), so anyone that backed him then would be feeling very pleased indeed with how the first day panned out. Henderson is now the 2/1 (3.0) second favourite and Elliott has drifted out to 10/3 (4.33).</p><h2>Related articles:</h2><p><strong><a href="" target="_blank" title="Cheltenham Festival 2019: Horse Racing Tips And Essential Betting Guide">Cheltenham Festival 2019: Horse Racing Tips And Essential Betting Guide</a></strong></p><p><strong><a href="" target="_blank" title="Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey Betting: Can Ruby Walsh Regain His Crown?">Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey Betting: Can Ruby Walsh Regain His Crown?</a></strong></p><p><strong><a href="" target="_blank" title="Cheltenham Festival: Who Will Be Crowned Top Trainer?">Cheltenham Festival: Who Will Be Crowned Top Trainer?</a></strong></p><p><a href="" target="_blank" title="Champion Chase"><strong>Cheltenham Festival: Who Will Win Queen Mother Champion Chase?</strong></a></p>
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