Cheltenham 2017 – Day 1 Review
Irish-trained horses ended up day one 4-3 in front in the Prestbury Cup as Gordon Elliott had yet another day to remember courtesy of three winners which forced the bookmakers to cut him from 9/2 into 1/3 to be Leading Trainer at the end of the week.
Apple Of His Eye
The highlight of Elliott’s treble was the terribly game and talented mare, Apple’s Jade who looked caught in a Rich Ricci sandwich of Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini jumping the last flight of the Mares’ Hurdle, but she out battled the Willie Mullins-trained duo…
to give Bryan Cooper a first winner of the week in the Gigginstown colours.
The Punchestown Festival is now next on the agenda for Apple’s Jade, who may revert to two-miles for the Champion Hurdle or alternatively run in the Mares’ Hurdle at the Kildare track but she has certainly proved a force to be reckoned with and justified the confidence from those in the Cullentra camp to leave Willie Mullins empty handed after the end of day one for the first time since 2008.
Elliott said; “Today was her Gold Cup. We knew the ground would suit her and I put a tongue tie on for the first time and thankfully it worked out. We kept our mouths shut after Punchestown because we knew she would come on a good bit for it. She’ll definitely go to Punchestown.”
Labaik’s Supreme Ability
Labaik’s ability was never really questioned and it was certainly proved when he flew up the hill to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with his unwillingness to jump off at the start of races appearing to be a distance memory, despite the fact that he acted up at Naas just last month.
A first of what one would expect to be many Cheltenham Festivals for 17-year-old Jack Kennedy and Labaik will be forever remembered as the horse that instigated, what already looks like being an incredible week for Elliott.
Tiger On A Roll
The treble was brought up by Lisa O’Neill on Tiger Roll – the first Cheltenham Festival winner of her career – as the Triumph Hurdle winner showed his fondness for the Prestbury air by absolutely tanking for the most part of the National Hunt Chase and he recorded the most emphatic victory of the afternoon.
Something In D’Air
That said, Buveur D’Air didn’t have too many worrying moments on his way to being JP McManus’ 50th Cheltenham Festival winer, but more importantly, the owners and Nicky Henderson’s sixth Champion Hurdle.
The plan to go over fences with Buveur D’air was aborted mid season and that looks a fairly inspired decision now.
With Altior also winning the Arkle yesterday, the look of last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is fairly strong.
*Prices correct at time of publication.