Geraghty Pilots Buveau D'Air To Cheltenham Feature Repeat

Cheltenham Festival opened with a bang on Tuesday and it was a good one for the bookmakers as Buveur d'Air won the day's big race, the Champion Hurdle, and another short-priced favourite, Footpad, won the Arkle.

Brilliant though Douvan was - and Mullins once described the 2016 Arkle Trophy victor as "like another species" - it is perhaps asking a little too much of the now 10-year-old to come back after a full year off with injuries and various niggles to win the biggest prize in his calendar.

Day 1 at Cheltenham saw Buveur d'Air win a pulsating Champion Hurdle race, and on day 2 there's no less than seven races to look forward to, headlined by the Queen Mother Champion Chase at 15.30pm GMT.

Faugheen crossed the line in sixth, 22 lengths behind the victor, and trainer Willie Mullins accepted the brilliant victor of the 2015 Champion Hurdle is no longer the force of old, nor indeed the best hurdler in his stable.

But Buveur D'Air righted the ship for Britain's champion trainer after a desperate overhauling of the gallant Melon by a neck in the nick of time. "They went a good gallop throughout and they both kept it up in the closing stages, it was a great contest". I imagine jockey Paul Townend will be delighted to be on top again and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them come home in front of the big two this afternoon.

"Unlike some of his prep races, this was a proper race and he showed his class".

McManus said: "I'm keeping up with Nicky!"

"Last year was tough but I can't have any complaints now", he said. I'm thrilled as Barry missed out last year and whilst Noel gave him a great ride last year, it was nice that Barry was involved and got to share in it and enjoy it.

Bex, from Harry Cooks Freehouse, said "it's going to be very crazy" while Gordan, owner of John Gordans in Cheltenham, said it "kicks off the season". The Grade 1 race covers a total of 3 miles 2/1 furlongs and welcomes the world's best race horses to the circuit each year. I thought Melon was going to beat me. The ground made it the ultimate test. Last year, online betting peaked just four minutes before the start of the Gold Cup race, at which point Worldpay was processing 98 online betting transactions every second. He dug deep thankfully, what a buzz'.

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