Review – Day 1 – Cheltenham 2015
Just two words sum up the first day of Cheltenham 2015: Willie Mullins.
In what was a memorable day for Mullins, his followers were quite simply lapping up winner after winner, with of four of the first five winners going to the master handler. In what can only be described as a bloodbath for on-course bookies, their worst nightmare came true as three of the first four races fell to the Mullins-trained hotpots.
First up was the impressive, Douvan, who took the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in style with Ruby Walsh punching the air across the winning line, and on-course punters reacting with chants of “Ruby, Ruby, Ruby”. It was a clear sign of what was to come.
Punters then smashed into Mullins and Walsh in the Arkle via Un De Sceaux, who hammered the opposition by 6l. It was also a result that not only sent a shiver down the on-course bookies’ spines, but one that put the Irish 2-0 ahead in the Prestbury Cup.
There was some respite for the bookies in the third race when The Druids Nephew won the 3m1f handicap, but there was still some damage done to the satchels as the second favourite returned odds of 8/1. It will be interesting to see if The Druids Nephew takes his place in the Grand National next month as he escapes a penalty, hence why his odds have been cut into 16/1.
The next result much had punters in seventh heaven as Faugheen delivered everything he had promised in landing the Champion Hurdle, where the old warrior, Hurricane Fly, rewarded each-way backers in third at 8/1. It was a third winner for the Mullins/Walsh combo, making it 3-1 to the Irish.
However, just when punters were getting ready to collect having invested their winnings on Ruby landing the Mares’ Hurdle via Annie Power at odds of 1/2, disaster struck when the mare fell at the last, with victory for the taking. It was a shocker for Ruby, but the Mullins bandwagon carried on rolling as he sent out the eventual winner and second favourite, Glens Melody. 4-1 to the Irish – had the Brits even turned up?
If there was any doubt it was a day for both the Irish and punters, then Gordon Elliott’s, Cause Of Causes, provided it at odds of 8/1 in the amateur riders’ event. 5-1 to the Irish, with each of the six day’s winners coming from the top three in the betting.
As for the home challenge, that finally emerged in the final race when Paul Townend, who earlier in the day won on Glens Melody (11/1), completed a double on Irish Cavalier – the name summing up day one.
Punters returning on day two will lick their lips at the prospect of another Mullins/Walsh favourite in the opener via Nichols Canyon, while Mullins’, Don Poli is clear favourite for the RSA Chase 35 minutes later.
More For Mullins?
If the Mullins machine starts well, then Champagne Fever could deliver a further blow in the big race of the day, the Champion Chase at 3.20pm.
Looking further ahead, Mullins to train Friday’s Gold Cup winners is now a 6/1 chance, while an Irish-trained winner is 7/4.
Day one delivered what punters wanted, what will day two provide – more of the same?