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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

What we learned from day one to help for the rest of the Cheltenham Festival

Ruby Walsh: rode two winners on day one of Cheltenham
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Ruby rusty? No chance

Would Ruby Walsh be below his best after missing most of the season through injury? Not a chance.

The leading jockey in Cheltenham Festival history was at it again on the first day with a superb double. First came an ice-cool ride on Footpad, biding his time to pounce, and then an all-action finish to get Benie Des Dieux up to win the Mares' Hurdle.

Walsh may have been a little more out of breath than usual after the second win, but he certainly seems to be in as good a form as ever for this week.

More rain, please

It might sound mad after all the rain (and snow) that Cheltenham has had, but it seems as though we could do with another shower.

Many of the jockeys were describing the ground as sticky and holding, with Barry Geraghty going as far as to call it "proper winter ground" after Buveur D'Air won the Champion Hurdle. 

It is certainly soft, and a sprinkling of rain should loosen it nicely and help several of the runners in the days ahead.

By George! Tom's runners worth a second look

Tom George finally added to his Cheltenham Festival tally when Summerville Boy captured the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, and the performances of his other runners on day one was notable too.

Rocklander produced an excellent run to be third in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase, while dear old Singlefarmpayment was a miraculous fifth in the Ultima Handicap Chase despite walking through at least two fences.

George has several interesting runners over the next three days, including Double Shuffle in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. They are worth keeping an eye on.

Never overlook previous festival form

Buveur D'Air (left): jumps the last with Melon to land the Champion Hurdle
Hardly the revelation of the century but it bears repeating that previous Cheltenham Festival form is vital in assessing a horse's prospects at future meetings.

The likes of Coo Star Sivola, Buveur D'Air, Melon, Rathvinden and others all ran well on Tuesday having done so at the meeting in the past.

It may have been different conditions underfoot on day one compared to many previous years, but if you have run well at the Cheltenham Festival in the past it is very likely you will do so again whatever the weather.

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George has several interesting runners over the next three days, including Double Shuffle in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup

Key data

R Walsh Tom George
E.W. Terms
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