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Cheltenham Festival Day Four: The Nice Guy ridden by Sean O’Keeffe takes 2:50, Vauban and State Man first two winners

The Nice Guy upset the odds to win the 2:50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on day four of the Cheltenham Festival, winning from 18/1.

Sean O’Keeffe took his first win of the week, after placing third on Wednesday.

It also makes it three wins from three on the day for Willie Mullins. 2/1 favourite Hillcrest was leading just over the halfway point, but almost lost it at a jump and eventually had to pull up.

Minella Cocooner and Brorson were also placed well to take the victory, but it was The Nice Guy who turned on the afterburners.

Gold Cup report:

O’Keeffe said: “You couldn’t do it in a better place could you? He’s a lovely horse, he’s very relaxed. The further I was going the more he was travelling. I knew at the top of the hill I was going well. He jumped great.”

“I’m very grateful for the opportunities Willie has given me. I’m just delighted to get the winner.”

State Man jockeyed by Paul Townend won the County Handicap Hurdle.

In the 26-horse 2:10 race, the 3/1 favourite was level with Colonel Mustard going into the final hurdle, after Stepney Causeway and I Like To Move It dominated the first few furlongs.

State Man pulled away on the home straight, meaning Townend now has won both races on Friday, taking his tally for the week to five.

Speaking to ITV, he said: “We needed it to be the win today. While he lacked in experience, we just wanted a clean run from him, and he gave us one.”

Vauban, also ridden by Paul Townend won the first race of the day at Cheltenham Festival, the 1:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle.

The early stages of the race saw Porticello and Fil Dor take the initiative, but 13/8 favourite Vauban came through the field to seal a second win a row for the horse and a fourth win of the festival for Townend.

Fil Dor came home second, with Pied Pier in third.

After the race, Townend told ITV: ““He’s alright isn’t he? We’ve always said he’s a work in progress, he’s improved every day and he can improve again I think.”

Vauban is trained by Willie Mullins, who is also having a successful week at Prestbury Park, this his fifth win of the Festival.

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