I did my bit to help that cause by tipping up Champagne Fever as the each way option in the opening race, when priced at 8-1. Ruby Walsh rode this one to victory, seeing off favourite My Tent or Yours, and came home the first winner of the meeting at an SP price of just 5-1. Champagne Fever was well backed during Tuesday morning, and the bookies knew they were stuffed should one of the first two in the market win the opener.
Simonsig won for us at odds of 4-6. As I often say, sometimes an odds on horse can be a value bet and, despite not being foot perfect, Simonsig did win in the end with a little in hand.
The race that made me cheer the loudest was the astonishing win by five time Cheltenham festival winner Quevega. I thought that bet was lost. Jockey Ruby Walsh looked to be struggling on the talented mare in the OLBG Mares Hurdle race. It did not look as though the 9 year old was going to create history. Then the field opened up for her and, incredibly, Ruby drove her through to win the race. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. What an incredible mare she is to come back and win for the fifth time – the first to do so since Golden Miller.
And there was another comeback that had Irish eyes smiling on Tuesday. Hurricane Fly was back and looked great when winning the Champion Hurdle. I love Hurricane Fly. Most race watchers do. I have won on Hurricane Fly often. Most punters have. The bookies wanted to get the Fly beaten but the more they told punters the Fly would lose; the more punters backed him.
When previewing the race on Monday night I was wrong to oppose Hurricane Fly with Zarkander. On Tuesday morning I began to sense I had made an error when I heard the words of Ted Walsh, father of jockey Ruby. The canny Ted was very strong about the chances of Hurricane Fly and said that we had not seen the best of the Fly in England.
So I played a Hurricane Fly and Champagne Fever each way double. Both trained by Mullins. Each ridden by Ruby. Any nagging doubts I might have had were erased the moment I saw Hurricane Fly in the paddock. I knew then that he would win. He looked absolutely magnificent.
It was a wonderful day of racing at Cheltenham. And there was a nice bonus. The bookies got bashed by the punters.
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