By Andrew Atkinson
Klassical Dream (6-1) and Duc Des Genievres (5-1) were winning each way selections – with Jerrysback (16-1) a Leader each way tip finishing third – on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival in rain swept testing conditions.
The 2019 Cheltenham Festival – where a mammoth £300m will be bet – saw the showcase meeting giving much drama.
Klassical Dream, trained by Willie Mullins, gave Walsh his 59th Festival career win in the Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle: “It’s what Cheltenham is all about. He jumped like a stag and the rain came for us,” said Walsh.
Injury plagued Walsh came under criticism, when leading by 3 lengths approaching the last in the OLBG Mares hurdle on 10-11 favourite Benie Des Dieux – a Leader tip – only to suffer a crashing fall at the last.
Duc Des Genievres, ridden by Paul Townend, won the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Cup for Mullins: “It was brilliant to win. It was pretty straightforward, I couldn’t believe how easy it was,” said Townend.
“Willie Mullins is a trainer to produce Cheltenham winners, year on year, and it’s a privilege to ride for him,” said Townend.
“Paul rode him like a genius – Cheltenham has been very lucky for us,” said Mullins.
Jerrysback ran third in the 18 runners National Hunt Challenge Cup over 3m 7f, rounding off a successful day for Leader punters.
*The second day of the Cheltenham Festival will be moved to Saturday – if racing is abandoned due to the strong winds forecast.
Forecast powerful gales could postpone the card, due to feature the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, with the Met Office expecting winds of 40-50 miles per hour.
An inspection will be staged at 8am on Wednesday.
A decision on whether racing can safely take place could be deferred until later in the day. The first race is scheduled at 1.30pm.
Jockey Club Racecourses regional director Ian Renton said: “The forecast says the gusts of wind are going to be really localised.
“If those gusts hit us and stay consistently with us for the day, at the force that is being predicted, we wouldn’t be able to race. We just have to see what comes.”