Horse Racing

Ruby Walsh claimed the first victory at Cheltenham on Vautour. (©GettyImages)
Ruby Walsh claimed the first victory at Cheltenham on Vautour. (©GettyImages).

Vautour wins Cheltenham Festival opener

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Vautour has won the first race of the Cheltenham Festival in impressive fashion on Tuesday.

Ridden by veteran jockey Ruby Walsh, the horse surged to victory in the Supreme Novices Hurdle ahead of Josses Hill and Vaniteux in second and third respectively.

7/2 joint favourite Vautour, who is trained by Willie Mullins, looked comfortable throughout and once the last hurdle was completed there was no doubt of the five-year-old's impending victory.

There was a surprise however in the shape of other joint favourite Irving, who never really got going and didn't threaten the lead at any point.

This would have been a disappointing result for jockey Nick Scholfield, after his horse had gone into the festival in such impressive form.

Crowds seemed in good spirits before the start of the festival and there was a brilliant atmosphere before the opener. The race was intense and the group remained fairly packed until the final hurdles, where Vautour began to pull away and leave the field behind.

33/1 shot Sgt Reckless came in fourth in the 18-horse field, and the Irish will be hoping for more success after yet another Walsh-Mullins success.

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