State Man wins Unibet Champion Hurdle Cheltenham Festival 2024 Day One

Cheltenham Festival 2024: Day One Review

The opening day of racing at Cheltenham was enthralling, and here we look back at the action from Tuesday afternoon.

The long-awaited 2024 Cheltenham Festival finally got underway at the iconic Cheltenham Racecourse on Tuesday afternoon, and there were seven races to take place together with that famous roar from the crowd, with the atmosphere as incredible as ever.

The races that took place were as follows: the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (13:30), the My Pension Expert Arkle Challenge Trophy (14:10), the Ultima Handicap Chase (14:50), the Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (15:30), the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (16:10), the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (16:50) and finally the Maureen Mullins National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Novices’ Chase (17:30).

All of these races promised to be exciting for all, and there was some history to be made. Trainer Willie Mullins was approaching his 100th win at Cheltenham, and on Tuesday afternoon, he made some ground and got closer to what would be a historic landmark for him and the sport of horse racing as a whole.

Jockey Paul Townend also had an extraordinary day, with his win onboard Lossiemouth in The Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle being his third of the day.

Now, we are going to review all seven races that took place on the opening day of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday, 12th March 2024. We will start with the 13:30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

13:30 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Winner: Slade Steel)

Action on day one opened with the 2024 renewal of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. In a tight and competitive race, it was to be Slade Steel, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, that would emerge victorious, with Mystical Power (Mark Walsh) and Firefox (Jack Kennedy) taking second and third place, respectively.

As mentioned, the horse trained by Henry de Bromhead was locked in a tight race until the closing stages, which saw Jockey Blackmore manage to claim top spot, and she eventually went on to hold a lead of a length and a half at the conclusion of the race, ahead of runner-up Mystical Power.

With this win, Ireland now has an astonishing record of 11 wins from the last 18 editions of this race.

14:10 – My Pension Expert Arkle Challenge Trophy (Winner: Gaelic Warrior)

Next up on the opening day at Cheltenham Racecourse was the 2024 edition of the My Pension Expert Arkle Challenge Trophy. The pre-race favourite, Gaelic Warrior, very much withstood the pressure of being the favourite for this race, with Paul Townend guiding his horse to what would be the jockey’s first of three victories on Tuesday. This was Trainer Willie Mullins’s 95th Cheltenham win.

Over the course of this exciting race, Gaelic Warrior frequently challenged then-race leader Found A Fifty before eventually finding that extra gear to pull clear at the front of the field to secure the win. Mullins’ Il Etait Temps (Danny Mullins) came in third place, while Found A Fifty (Jack Kennedy) had to settle for a second-place finish in the end.

14:50 – Ultima Handicap Chase (Winner: Chianti Classico)

The third race of the opening day was the 2024 Ultima Handicap Chase. Chianti Classico, one of two horses taking part in this race trained by Kim Bailey, would go on to win this race with the other horse, Trelawne, who unfortunately fell early on in the race.

After making some solid progress through the field, Chianti Classico held a slender lead ahead of Beau Morgan’s Twig after the final fence, but some fine riding from Jockey David Bass saw his horse eventually manage to pull clear of the competition to win the race ahead of runner-up Twig and Meetingofthewaters (Mark Walsh), who rounded off the top three in third place in the end.

15:30 – Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Winner: State Man)

Then came the headline race of day one of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival – the 15:30 Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy. After Gaelic Warrior earlier on in the day, Paul Townend’s State Man became the latest pre-race favourite to prove the hype before the race correct by winning the 2024 Unibet Champion Hurdle.

State Man was the favourite with 2023 winner Constitution Hill absent, and the opportunity to take the victory home in this famous race was most certainly taken. Townend guided State Man through the field before eventually fending off would be runner-up Irish Power to win the race by a margin of a length and a quarter. This was Paul Townend’s second victory of the day.

16:10 – Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Winner: Lossiemouth)

Tuesday afternoon’s third to last race was the 2024 edition of the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham Racecourse. The pre-race favourite ruled again, with Lossiemouth emerging victorious thanks to another superb performance from Jockey Paul Townend, who led Willie Mullins’ horse to victory.

Patience was the order of the day for Townend, who bided his time in this race. When going up the hill, State Man made a swift run through the remainder of the field to achieve a dominant victory in this year’s Mares’ Hurdle. Telmesomethinggirl (Rachael Blackmore) came in second, whilst it was Darragh O’Keefe’s Hispanic Moon who settled for a third place finish in the end.

16:50 – Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Winner: Lark In The Mornin)

The penultimate race of the opening day of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival was this year’s running of the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle. Jockey James Slevin rode Lark In The Mornin to victory in what was a fantastic performance in a tense and enthralling race on Tuesday afternoon.

After the initial race leader had pulled up, Lark In The Mornin took the initiative to eventually win the race after steaming into the top spot from the outside. Slevin guided his horse to victory ahead of stern competition from runner-up Eagles Reign (Tom Harney) and Ndaawi in third place (Jack Kennedy).

17:30 – Maureen Mullins National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Novices’ Chase (Winner: Corbetts Cross)

The pre-race favourite narrowly missed out on victory in the final race of day one—the 2024 Maureen Mullins National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham Racecourse. Instead, Corbetts Cross, ridden by Jockey Derek O’Connor, emerged victorious in the end.

Corbetts Cross and Derek O’Connor put in an incredible performance, making light work of the field to go on and secure a very comfortable victory in the end after making their win look easy. In the end, the margin of this victory stood at an astonishing 17 lengths, with Patrick Mullins’ pre-race favourite Embassy Gardens coming in second place, whilst Gina Andrews’ Mr Vango came third overall.

Excitement and anticipation will now be building ahead of the second of four days of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival. Day Two is set to begin with the 2024 Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle at 13:30 on the afternoon of Wednesday 13th March.

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