Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham Festival Champions Day 2023 Look Back

The highly anticipated Cheltenham Festival returns today with the Champions Day set to kick off the week-long event. 

Champions Day sees seven races take place with the Unibet Champion Hurdle taking centre stage as the feature race. 

Before the opening day commences, take a look back on how the Champions Day panned out just 12 months ago. 

Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race: 

Last year saw Barry Connell’s Marine Nationale take the victory in the festival opener, defeating the successful Willie Mullins-trained Facile Vega who came home in second place. 

Mullins had a second horse in the top three with Patrick Mullins riding Diverge to a third-place finish. 

However, the usual reign of Mullins is set to be restored with Tullyhill taking part in the 2-mile opener and grabbing the bookmakers’ attention. 

Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase:

The second race of the day saw Mullins pick up his first win of the 2023 Festival with Paul Townend riding El Fabiola to victory. 

Nicky Henderson’s Jonbon came home in second place just ahead of Mullins’ Saint Roi, ridden by Mark Walsh. 

Tipped as the most talented horse in the race, the punters may look to place their hopes on Gaelic Warrior, who could be a hot favourite for the 14:10 race. 

Many predict Mullins’ Il Etait Temps to raise his game following his performance at Leopardstown so could be hot on Gaelic Warrior’s tail early doors. 

Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase:

Lucinda Russell’s Corach Rambler took gold last time out in the third race with Derek Fox riding the horse to victory. 

Closely behind, James Slevin brought Fastorslow home in second place with Jonjo O’Neill Junior and Senior collecting third place with Monbeg Genius. 

For 2024, two stand out names for punters to gamble on are the British-trained Chianti Classico and Twig. 

Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy:

Nicky Henderson’s Constitution Hill took top spot last time out with Mullins’ State Man just missing out, coming home in second place. 

Davy Russell rode Gordon Elliott’s Zanahiyr into third place in the 15:30 two-mile race just 12 months ago.

With previous winner Constitution Hill out with ill-health, the inform State Man will be looking to claim the number one spot this time out. 

Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Race: 

The 16:10 race saw Rachel Blackmore and Honeysuckle wrap up first place with Harry Fry’s Love Envoi taking second place.

Gordon Elliott’s Queen’s Brook secured third place after being ridden by jockey Davy Russell. 

For this year, Lossiemouth seems to be the banker for punters with Mullins confident his horse will ‘have no problems at this trip’. 

Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race:

Michael O’Sullivan was the winning jockey 12 months ago, riding Jazzy Matty to victory on the opening day of the festival.

In second place came Charles Byrnes’ Byker before Mullins’ wrapped up another podium with Risk Belle coming home in third. 

For this race, Lark In The Mornin has caught the eye of punters with Batman Girac posing threat after coming home in fourth place at Leopardstown earlier in the season.

National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup 

Mullins closed the opening day in style, picking up yet another win with Patrick Mullins riding Gaillard Du Mensil to victory. 

Jaime Codd and Chemical Energy just missed out on the top spot but came in ahead of third place, Henderson’s Mister Coffey.

 The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup will hold extra significance for Mullins this year as he looks to retain his title for a third successive win. 

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