Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham Festival Day two round-up : Ruby Walsh injury overshadows Altior dominance

It was another typically dramatic day of racing on day two of the Cheltenham Festival.

There was great excitement at the racecourse, with the in-form Altior and Samcro looking to stamped their authority all over the Cheltenham turf on day two of the Festival.

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Hundreds of thousands of punters flocked to the course on Ladies Day to witness the action first-hand and try and beat the bookies.

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The Queen Mother Champion Chase was expected to be the highlight of the day, with the race considered to be 12 months in the making due to the highly-anticipated meeting between Altior and Douvan, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Here are the main talking points from Ladies’ Day at the festival:

Altior wins thrilling Queen Mother Champion Chase despite injury scare

The eight-year-old shrugged of late fitness concerns to produce another incredible victory for trainer Nicky Henderson, who secured his 60th win at the festival.

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Altior, who won the Arkle Chase winner last year, had struggled on Monday but put doubts over his fitness aside to take his unbeaten run over jumps to 13 races.

The evens favourite, ridden by Nico de Boinville, was behind the chasing at the home turn before Douvan fell at the fourth last, allowing Altior to power home to beat Min (5-2), with 40-1 outsider God’s Own third.

Samcro continues to dominate in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

There was big expectations on Samcro ahead of the opening race of day two. Despite the pressure, the six-year-old lived up to the hype with victory in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

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Gordon Elliott’s big hope arrived in Cheltenham unbeaten in six starts under rules and justified his 8-11 favourite tag with another excellent run.

Samcro was pushed hard by the impressive 18-year-old jockey Jack Kennedy, who enabled Samcro to fend off the challenge of Black Op (8-1) and Last Destination (4-1) by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

The chestnut gelding has been lauded about as a future Gold Cup winner following another emphatic victory at Prestbury Park which extended his winning run to seven race.

Ruby Walsh rushed to hospital with suspected broken leg after fall

Walsh had started the festival in great form, riding two winners on Tuesday with Aboard Footpad and Benie Des Dieux in the Arkle Trophy and Mares’ Hurdle respectively.

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The victories took him to 58 career wins at the Festival, where he has been the leading jockey on 11 separate occasions.

The 38-year-old, who missed four months of this campaign after breaking his leg in a fall at Punchestown in November, was riding Al Boum Photo in the RSA Insurance Novice Chase. His mount hit the second-last fence and fell, which appeared to roll on to Walsh’s leg.

In addition to missing the last two days at Prestbury Park, the injury seems likely to make Walsh miss the Grand National at Aintree in April.

20-1 shot Bleu Berry defies odds in the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

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Mark Walsh was a late replacement on Bleu Berry and he produced an incredible run to beat Topofthegame in the Coral Cup.

The 20-1 winner was supposed to be ridden by Paul Townend, but he switched to Max Dynamite following Walsh’s injury in the preceding RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase.

Blue Berry, who is trained by Willie Mullins, came from the back of the field to deny Topofthegame in the final few strides.

Gordon Elliott’s Barra made late headway to secure third place, while the 8-1 joint-favourite Max Dynamite ended up in fourth in the hands of teenager James Bowen.

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