RACING

Cheltenham Festival: Altior wins Queen Mother Champions Chase

Favourite Altior made it three Cheltenham Festival wins as he took the Queen Mother Champions Chase.

The evens favourite, rode by Nico De Boinville, comfortably sealed victory after rival Douvan fell three hurdles from home.

Min (5-2) came in second, with 40-1 shot God’s Own coming third.

De Boinville said: “This ground was the worst he has ever had, but he came through to win. Everyone loves an Irish banker but how about an English one. He really is exceptional, the best of the best.”

Meanwhile, Ruby Walsh suffered a suspected broken leg after a fall in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase – as favourite Presenting Percy ran out victorious.

Walsh, who partnered Footpad and Benie Des Dieux to success on day one, was aboard Al Boum Photo, who came down at the second last fence as he tried to chase down the rampant victor.

The 38-year-old was assisted into an ambulance in what is another dose of bad luck for the Irishman, who had just made it back in time for the Festival after breaking his leg in a fall at Punchestown in November.

He will now miss his booked ride aboard Douvan in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, with Patrick Mullins taking his spot.

The Patrick Kelly-trained Presenting Percy entered the race having finished second to Our Duke in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park last time out.

Ridden by Davy Russell, he raced clear of Monalee up the famous Cheltenham hill, eventually winning by a widening six lengths.

Elegant Escape, who was priced at 9/1, finished a distant third in the Grade One contest

It continues the Irish dominance at this years Festival, with Willie Mullins training three winners on day one, with key runners such as Douvan and the aforementioned Our Duke to follow.

Earlier, favourite Samcro took victory in the first race on Ladies Day ahead of Black Op and Willie Mullins-trained horse Next Destination.

Samcro, trained by Gordon Elliot, was much fancied ahead of the race with his odds considerably shorter than anybody else  and it went to script, leaving smiles on the faces of many punters.

It was a very bunched race for the most part but Samcro pulled ahead when it mattered, despite a spirited challenge from Black Op down the home stretch.

Trainer Elliot told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I can’t believe it. I was nervous, very nervous.

”There is as much on this as there on Don Hoskell for the Gold Cup. I’m delighted. There was a lot of pressure on Jack. A big team effort, I can’t believe it.”

The trainer was clearly very apprehensive ahead of the race but there was confidence in the camp beforehand as this insight from our reporter James Stevens shows:

Black Op looked like he might cause an upset for a short period of time with Neil Fehily on board, who was trying to repeat the success he had in the first race yesterday with Summerville Boy but couldn’t quite find the pace on the line to overhaul Samcro.

Mullins’s Next Destination also looked in contention for a late surge at the end but lost touch with the two leaders off the last fence.

In the third race of the day, Bleu Berry (20/1) won with a photo finish with Topofthegame coming second. Ruby Walsh may well be out for the rest of the day but it’s another win for Willie Mullins and the Irish making that three in a row for today.

 

The fifth race of the day ended with a victory for Tiger Roll followed by Urgent De Gregaine in second and The Last Samuri in third, in a fascinating race. Tiger Roll who was 7/1 managed to hold off the late charge of Urgent De Gregaine to take the Glenfarclass Cross Country Steeple Chase title.

Veneer of Charm(33-1) took the Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap. With Style De Garde taking second at 12-1.

 

 

More to follow with the next race being the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at 17:30You can also receive updates from our live blog

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