Cheltenham Festival RACING

Cheltenham Festival: Epitante wins the Champions Hurdle

Epitante has won the day’s feature race, the Champion Hurdle after a second false start.

The winner Epitante on the final straight of the Champion Hurdle.

She was the clear favourite, priced in at 2/1 and won by three lengths. Sharjah placed in second and Darver Star finished in third.

Jockey Barry Geraghty said straight after the race: “She was a dream.”

Trainer Nicky Henderson told ITV sport: “She’s great, we were always quite pleased with where she was on the field.

“She always had it covered and she has the gears.”

Epitante in the winners enclosure after the race.

After a modest start, she stayed in the pack and really came into her own in the final furlongs.

Nicky Henderson’s Eighth Champion Hurdle win has secured another £450,000 prize pot.

Earlier in the day, Shishkin claimed victory by a nose at the first race of this year’s Cheltenham Festival after edging out Abacadabras in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The 6/1 Nicky Henderson trained horse won the grand prize of £70,000 in a dramatic race involving two falls. Abacadabras finished second with Chantry House crossing the post in third place.

Jockey and now eleven time winner at Cheltenham, Nico De Boinville said: “Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. But it shows what a horse he is.”

Follow his next race and all the other races on the Parklife Sport live blog here.

Trainer Henderson didn’t fully see the race or the chaos on the back straight. “I couldn’t really see what was going on, before that it looked like he was having a good run.”

Put The Kettle On has won the second race of the day at the Cheltenham Festival after battling off Faikir D’Oudairies in the final stretch.

The winner was priced at 16/1 ahead of the Arkle Challenge Trophy. The winner picks up a prize of almost £100,000.

The race required a second start after both Edwardstone and Notebook ran ahead. The starter got the action underway via a standing start for the second time today.

Put The Kettle On led the early stages of the race which featured 11 runners. He ran ahead with two fences remaining.

1st Put the Kettle On, 2nd Fakir d’Oudairies, 3rd Rouge Vif.

Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1)

Gloucestershire trained ‘The Conditional,’ ridden by Brendan Powell at 7/1, pipped Kildisart at the post to collect winnings of £61,000.

Powell said: “I was really struggling in the last year for winners, but the team have brought me back up again.”

Going into the race, Kim Bailey’s Vinndication at 11/2 was the favourite but only managed to finish fourth. Quarenta and Elwood fell early on, and with twelve to go, No Comment also fell.

1st The Conditional, 2nd Kildisart, 3rd Discorama.

Honeysuckle shocks favorite in Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle

Honeysuckle has won the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle after holding off a fightback from strong favorite Benie Des Dieux.

Stormy Ireland led for the majority of the race, but tailed off as they headed over the final two fences on the course. Elfile was strong enough to finish 3rd.

Honeysuckle managed to box in the favourite to prevent the final chase. The winning jockey, Rachael Blackmore, spoke to ITV following the event.

“This means so much. This is so special. She is looked after really well. She’s in tip top shape and I’m, lucky to steer here around,” Blackmore said.

“I was kind of forced in, I knew I’d get plenty of tow. It’s just brilliant to do it on this big week and I’m delighted.”

1st Honeysuckle, 2nd Benie Des Dieux, 3rd Elfile.

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