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Hughes swoops to conquer while McCoy is left with a sinking feeling

By Frank Brownlow

The joy and pain of jump racing was summed up by two Ulster jockeys in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle – and in an unexpected manner.

Unheralded Armagh jockey Brian Hughes swooped for a shock triumph on board 33/1 outsider Hawk High while the legendary Tony McCoy ended up dumped to the deck by Goodwood Mirage.

And there was more injury hell for Brian Cooper who suffered a broken leg in a fall from Clarcam.

The highly-rated rider had been due to partner Last Instalment in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.

He will be replaced in the blue riband of steeplechasing by Brian O'Connell.

Cooper only returned to action in September after breaking the same leg at Down Royal in May, and is expected to be out for up to six months.

Yorkshire toasted its first Cheltenham Festival winner of the week when the Tim Easterby-trained Hawk High got home ahead of Katgary.

Easterby said: "He's a very decent horse and he needs a confident ride."

Cross-country specialist Balthazar King defied top weight to reclaim his crown in the Glenfarclas Handicap Chase.

Winner of this specialist contest in 2012, the Philip Hobbs-trained 10-year-old, ridden by Richard Johnson, just denied Any Currency by a short head after a mighty tussle.

Ulster-owned Big Shu, the winner 12 months ago, was another two lengths away in third.

Johnson said: "He's just amazing. I thought it would be difficult off top weight, but he never stops trying. He just wants to win."

Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins took the opening race at Cheltenham for the second successive day as Faugheen made mincemeat of his rivals in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.

After Vautour had blitzed the field in the Supreme on Tuesday, Walsh adopted slightly more patient tactics on the heavily-backed 6-4 favourite as he settled in third place, albeit pulling strongly for most of the race.

Tom Scudamore tried tracking Faugheen on market rival Red Sherlock, but by the second-last he was having to work very hard to maintain his position. Ballyalton moved into second but he could not get anywhere near the four-and-a-half-length winner. Rathvinden was third.

Mullins said of Faugheen: "We always thought he was a chaser in the making and I'd prefer to go chasing with him next year. We'll just see what next season brings. When he blundered at the third-last, I thought maybe that was it. But he picked up and went away. He looks a bit above average."

Asked to compare Faugheen with Vautour, Mullins said: "Vautour is a different level."

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