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DODGING BULLETS with R Walsh Cheltenham 16-11-12.

Dodging Bullets will be entered in Kempton's Christmas Hurdle next month

  PICTURE: Martin Lynch (  

Dodging Bullets holds on in slowly run Grade 2

Report: Cheltenham, Friday

Opus Energy Novices' Hurdle (registered as the Sharp Novices' Hurdle) (Grade 2) 2m½f, 4yo+,

DODGING BULLETS made it two from two over hurdles for the season when winning the Grade 2 novice on day one of Cheltenham's Open meeting, but he remains a general 14-1 for the Supreme back at the course in March.

That may be because of the way the race was run with the eight riders reluctant to go into the lead at the start.

Ruby Walsh took the initiave on the Paul Nicholls-trained 5-4 favourite, who was a course-and-distance winner last month.

He set a modest gallop in front and plenty looked to have a chance turning for home, but the winner - bred by Frankie Dettori - held on gamely, completing a double for Nicholls and Walsh following Shooters Wood's win in the 2m handicap chase.

River Maigue was second for Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty with the Evan Williams-trained Court Minstrel third under Paul Moloney.

Nicholls, who has two Supreme Novices' on his cv, was not surprised by the lack of pace.

He said: "We knew there was going to be a lack of pace. He had to go and learn something so we let him bowl along. He dominated from the front and won nicely. It was not an ideal race really.

"The better the race the better he will be. I've not really made a plan after today only to go to Cheltenham and Aintree for the two good novices, but between now and then we might stick him in the Christmas Hurdle as well as a novice hurdle."

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