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Cheltenham Festival 2024: Paul Townend and Willie Mullins make it a hat-trick of wins with Lossiemouth success in the Mares’ Hurdle

Champion Hurdle (15:30)

Heavy favourite State Man (2/5) headed to a brilliant victory in the Champion Hurdle on day one of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival.

In the absence of Constitution Hill, who withdrew last week after an ‘unsatisfactory blood test’, last year’s runner-up was dominant this afternoon.

“He’s a very simple horse to ride,” said jockey, Paul Townend. “On the ground he could’ve waited a bit longer but I wanted to look after his stamina.”

“He deserves a day like this. Constitutional Hill was too good last year. It’s a race that means a lot to me, and to get my name on that list is very special.”

Trainer Willie Mullins and Townend do the double on day one of the Cheltenham Festival after Gaelic Warrior’s stunning win in the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novice’ Chase at 14:10.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1:30pm)

Slade Still (13-2) swooped through to land a superb victory in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on the opening day of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival.

It was a surprise victory ahead of the well-fancied Tully Hill and Mystical Power, who was narrowly defeated in what proved a tight finish.

Winning jockey Rachael Blackmore said: “I was always travelling well and wanted a big jump at the last.

“It’s unbelievable and I always love this place. It’s great to be coming here riding horses. 

“We always dream of bringing horses’ here and the team do some job.”

Arkle Challenge Trophy (2:10pm)

The pre-race favourite Gaelic Warrior was in fine form on the damp heavy ground at Cheltenham to come from behind to win the Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase.  

Matata was the early leader, starting strongly under jockey Sam Twiston-Davies, to lead at the halfway mark  just ahead of Gaelic Warrior.

Found A Fifty made a late push to join the two leaders and make it a  three horse race with two fences left but Paul Townend rode superbly after the last to secure the title for the third time.

However, there was some less positive news further back with Master Chewy falling in the closing stages.

Winning jockey Townend said: “He was keen but better and he was jumping much straighter.

“Stamina came into play today. It’s a pressure week but getting this win off the back lets pressure off my shoulders.”

Handicap Chase (2:50pm)

Twig ridden by Beau Morgan, came home in second just ahead of Willie Mullins’ Meetingofthewaters. 

One of the fan favourites, Trelwane, disappointed punters after falling early on at the second jump. 

Jockey David Bass spoke to ITV post-race: “We had two in the race and the rain came and I worried I wasn’t on the right one.

“I’m glad I chose well, he ran so well. I got past Paddy [Brennan] and he said to me ‘go on’.

“We can get into the big day, it’s quite a good feeling winning here, such a privilege to ride such good horses.”

Mares’ Hurdle (4:10pm)

Jockey Paul Townend won his third race of the day as Lossiemouth became the Mares’ Hurdle Champion.

Lossiemouth started favourite but it was You Wear It Well and Ashroe Diamond who began the race the better, leading with five hurdles to go.

Telmesomethinggirl looked for a moment like they were going to push for a surprise win but he was chased down by Lossiemouth after the final hurdle to win in a comfortable victory.

The favourite was pushed all the way but despite the heavy ground Paul Townend was able to ride his third winner of the day.

Post-race Townend said: “There was question on her stamina but never really doubted her.’’

‘’It’s a funny place this, it is very easy to ride when you’re on a good one.’’

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