It was a disappointing opening day at the Cheltenham Festival for followers of the Update. Queens Brook and Gaelic Warrior both ran well in the mares' hurdle and Boodles Juvenile Hurdle respectively but found one too good after the last. Indeed, the latter's defeat summed up the afternoon - despite showing a tendency to jump to his right, I thought he was going to win comfortably rounding the home turn but the ex-French gelding couldn't withstand the late thrust of Brazil who raced on the Flat last year and had more speed. A short head separated the pair. No complaints with Queens Brook, she held every chance but met Marie's Rock on a going day.
Constitution Hill ensured the meeting got off to a blistering start with a top-class performance in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle. The Tolworth Hurdle winner was carried into the race by the strong gallop set by Dysart Dynamo and Jonbon and readily went to the front after the second last. The clock confirmed it was a very smart performance. Sadly, Shallwehaveonemore lost his life following a fall at the final flight.
Honeysuckle was imperious once more in the Champion Hurdle as she extended her unbeaten run with a three and a half lengths victory. Rachael Blackmore's mount jumped the last much better than another former winner Epatante and that sealed her victory. She is a brilliant mare. The runner-up also ran very well and looks back to her best. The disappointment of the race was Appreciate It who faded tamely after the penultimate flight to finish seventh. Last year's Supreme winner jumped his hurdles big and wasn't slick enough, plus he looked slow when the taps were turned on.
Congratulations to Alan King who won the Arkle Trophy courtesy of Edwardstone. The Kayf Tara gelding has had a terrific season and capped it with an authoritative win here by four and a quarter lengths. Tom Cannon's only anxious moment came on the first circuit when Brave Seasca fell and nearly brought the winner to a standstill.
Fingers crossed for a better day on Wednesday.
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