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Dublin: 21 °C Thursday 24 July, 2014

As it happened: Cheltenham Festival: Day 1

It’s most magical time of the year for many racing fans. Join all the runners and riders here for the afternoon.

Ruby Walsh celebrates winning on Hurricane Fly.
Ruby Walsh celebrates winning on Hurricane Fly.
Image: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/Press Association Images

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the match. E-mail adrian@thescore.ie, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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13.27 – Let’s do this, shall we? The good news is that today’s racing is… on. The bad news? Many of us are minute’s away from disappointment once again.

Proceedings have been pushed back by over half an hour however with the Supreme Novice’s Hurdle going off at 205pm. Channel 4 are in talks to extend their coverage and it looks like they will while RTÉ will stay on the air as normal. Here’s the new run-down.

205pm: William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

240pm: Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase

320pm: Jlt Specialty Handicap Chase

400pm: Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy

440pm: Olbg Mares’ Hurdle

515pm: Rewards4racing Novices’ Handicap Chase

545: Glenfarclas Handicap Chase (Cross Country)

Any tips for the day?

13.30 – RTÉ are yet to go on air but Channel 4 are currently showing a VT from Barry Geraghty’s house ‘half an hour from Dublin’. His living room looks nice.

13.35

13.40

This is class. My friend and yours, Ruby Walsh, just talked us through the technicalities of the old course and the new at Cheltenham. It’s like Tiger walking you through Augusta or Greg Lemond leading us up l’Alpe d’Huez.

13.43 – The always-watchable Brian Gleeson has been watching too much Premier League football it seems. He just described a jockey as a top, top operator. ‘Triffic. There’s plenty of support for Hurricane Fly, meanwhile. Here’s Clive McCormack from Athlone.

Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

13.48 – Look at just came through the gate! You know what Jason Sherlock would love? If you sang ‘Jayo, Jayooooo’ at him while he’s having his lunch.

INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Back on RTÉ, Tracy Piggott’s charity bet is going on White Star Line to place at 3.20 and Quevaga to win the Mares’ Hurdle in the second last of the day.

13.50Latest betting for the supreme Novices: 2-1 My Tent or Yours, 5-1 Jezki, 5-1 Champagne Fever, 7-1 Un Atout, 12-1 Dodging Bullets, 16-1 River Maigue.

13.58 – My Tent Or Yours owner, JP McManus on Channel 4: ‘I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Nicky [Henderson] tells me he’s looking very,very well and the lads seem very happy with him. But’s it’s a competitive race so fingers crossed.’

14.07 – The Cross Country Race will not be run today we’re told, it’ll now be run on Thursday.

14.09 – And they’re off in the Supreme Novices Chase, accompanied by the customary Cheltenham roar.

14.11 – Ruby Walsh is off to a flier at the start of the week with a thrilling win on board Champagne Fever. 1-0 Ireland.

14.12 – Ruby Walsh is off to a flier at the start of the week with a thrilling win on board Champagne Fever. 1-0 Ireland.

14.14 – That was some race to get you going. the Willie Mullins-trained Champagne Fever led from the front and hung on to win at a price fo 5-1. Nice going.

  1. Champagne Fever
  2. My Tent Or Yours
  3. Jezki

14.17 – He might not look it here, but Willie Mullins is pretty happy with that start.

He’s not too impressed with everyone patting him on the back however. He says Hurricane Fly ‘landed a bullseye’ in the stables this morning and bit him.

“It was a very brave performance from the horse to jump like that,” he tells the TV reporter. “I thought the game was up when he hit the second last, but luckily others did too.”

14.22 – Ruby Walsh is interviewed as he heads back to the weighing room:

“I’m not being cocky but when you’ve ridden as many winners as I have, there’s an expectation. And you have to deliver.”

14.29 – So what’s next up? The Arkle Chase and what is essentially the Simonsig show. Anyone tipping the Nicky Henderson-trained favourite to be shocked?

14.32 – Many of you may have had the stopwatches out during the first race. John Duggan on The Last Word last night said that his over/under was four minutes. Well the signs are that the course isn’t too bad at all: Ruby came home in  3m 56 seconds.

14.34Latest betting in the Arkle: 4-7 Simonsig, Overturn 7-2, Arvika Ligeonniere.

14.41 – So here we go Overturn v Simonsig…

14.47Simonsig wins. It was billed — by us too, 30 seconds ago, admittedly — as Simonsig v Overturn but Barry Geraghty was made to dig deep to bring the favourite home ahead of a very impressive Baily Green in second. He pushed him all the way up the hill in the end but got it done.

“It was harder work than I thought,” says Geraghty afterwards, “But he ran it really well in fairness to him.”

15.00 – Right, next up’s The Speciality Handicap Chase. Any tips? I’ve a cheeky fiver on The Package because it’s my nickname in around 15 of the southern-most counties.

“I think Channel 4 made a big mistake getting rid of McCririck,” writes Dietmar Hamann, meanwhile, on Twitter. A predisposition for controversial old lads on the telly? No wonder the former Liverpool star enjoys his time with RTÉ’s soccer panel.

“Love him or hate him but he certainly made the time go by quicker between races,” he adds. God, Didi loves gambling, doesn’t he?

15.14Latest betting for the JLT Speciality HCap Chase, then? 13-2 Our Mick, 8-1 Merry King, 8-1 Loch Ba, 10-1 Fruity Orooney

15.21

Irish fans watch today’s racing  Pic: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

15.29Golden Chieftain wins the JLT HCap Chase You’re a happy boy or girl if you had that at 28-1.

15.44 – Right, Adrian’s made a dash to the bookies so it’s Ben Blake here taking you through the remaining races. Next up is the big one – the Champion Hurdle.

In a small field of nine horses, the three horses everyon is talking about are Hurricane Fly (7/4) with Ruby Walsh, Zarkandar (7/2) and Daryl Jacob and last year’s winner Rock On Ruby (11/2) with Noel Fehily.

Elsewhere, Barry Geragthy rigdes Grandouet (15/2) and AP McCoy is on Binocular (10/1).

15.53 – Unsurprisingly Willie Mullins-trained Hurricane Fly is being heavily backed in as he goes in search of his 15th Grade One win.

The horses are being led out as we speak. Get you bets on quick if you haven’t already.

15.57 – Ted Walsh is backing Ruby and Hurricane Fly to do it.



YouTube credit: rte·

16.00 – Here we go. They’ve taken off. 2 miles is the distance.

16.08

Ruby speaking to Channel 4: “I can’t say I was ever over-confident. He didn’t travel as he can and made a few mistakes but he’s got an unbelievably big heart for a small horse. He’s a cracking horse and I’m glad he got it back to show people he’s a Champion Hurdler.”

16.02 – Rock On Ruby into the lead from early on. Zarkandar in second with Countrywide Flame third and Hurricane Fly not far behind.

16.04 – Rock On Ruby still in front. Grandouet has fallen with 3 to go.

16.06 – Hurricane Fly takes the lead for the first time and Hurricane Fly wins the Champion Hurdle with Rock On Ruby second and Countrywide Flame third.  Superb from Ruby Walsh.

16.37 – The next race scheduled for Day 1 is the Glenfarclas Cross Country has been deemed unraceable so will go ahead on Thursday instead. That means the Mares Hurdle is next up.

Not many people are looking beyond Quevega (8/11) in this one. She’s won four times out of the five that this race has been run. And who’s on board? Having just been to collect the Champion Hurdle, Ruby Walsh is back in the saddle.

16.13 – Paddy Power claiming they’ve lost over €4m from Hurricane Fly’s win.

16.15 – He’s earned Donegal footballer Michael Murphy a few quid anyway.

16.41 – This is 2m 4f and has just got underway.

16.46 – And it’s Ruby Walsh again with Quevega who take the Mares’ Hurdle! They had a huge challenge on their hands with one fence to jump but managed to get up the field with incredible pace to make history.

The result looks like this:

1. Quevega (8/11)

2. Sirene D’Ainay (33/1)

3. Swincombe Flame (40/1)

17.03 – What a day for Ruby Walsh and the Mullins family. After the opening day, they’ve already got three wins on the board with Champagne Fever, Hurricane Fly and Quevega. They’re flying the flag for the Irish, who lead Britain 3-2. We’ve got one more race to bring you this evening  and it’s the Novices’ Handicap chase at 5.15.

17.16 – AP McCoy on Colour Squadron (4/1) is the favourite in the final race of the day. Behind him is Tom Scudamore and The Druids Nephew (5/1) while Shangani is 6/1 and Carlito Brigante and you can get Davy Russell and Carlito Brigante at 8/1.

17.18 – After a false start, they’re off in the Novices’ Handicap.

17.21 – Forgotten Gold is currently in front.

17.25Nicky Henderson’s Rajdhani Express and Sam Waley-Cohen win the Novices’ Handicap. 66-1 shot Ackertac was second with Ohio Gold (16-1) third.

17.35 – That’s my lot. We’ve had a brilliant opening day to Cheltenham 2013 and are looking forward to doing it all again tomorrow. As frost is predicted again tonight, there will be an 8am course inspection in the morning.

Thanks for the company!

Cheltenham festival given go-ahead following inspection

Poll: Will you have a flutter on the action at Cheltenham this week?

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