Mild sunny weather welcomed the return of enthusiastic crowds to Prestbury Park with the promise of 4 days of top quality National Hunt racing and the pinnacle of the racing year – the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.
The first day of the Cheltenham festival hit punters pockets hard with surprise results when 5 favourites failed to win. Champion jockey Tony McCoy’s joy was evident when winning the feature race, the Champion Hurdle, on Binocular. Up until last week it was unclear if the Nicky Henderson trained gelding would run because of recent injury. This French bred six year old, who finished 3rd in 2009, was always travelling sweetly and took command between the last two hurdles to win comfortably giving his popular Irish owner, J. P. McManus, his 22nd festival success.
But much of the festival focus remains on Friday’s eagerly anticipated Gold Cup which will see a clash for the 3rd time of super equine heroes, Kauto Star and Denman. The Paul Nicholls trained duo have captured the hearts of the nation and Kauto Star’s bid to win this three and a quarter mile chase would secure a place in the history books with former champions Arkle, Best Mate, Golden Miller and Cottage Rake.
By LYNN LAWSON 16th March ‘10