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Ruby rules supreme on Al

Al Ferof was given a brilliant ride by Ruby Walsh to claim glory for the Paul Nicholls yard in the Stan James Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Last season's Champion Bumper hero Cue Card was sent off the hot favourite, but although he travelled well for much of the contest, he was hard at work from the turn for home.

Sprinter Sacre looked the most likely winner at the top of the straight, with his stablemate Spirit Son bang there as well, but Al Ferof (10-1) finished with a rattle to claim top honours by two lengths.

Spirit Son filled the runner-up spot, with Sprinter Sacre third and Cue Card only fourth.

Walsh, not long back from an injury lay-off, said: "I went into the ring expecting Paul to tell me to ride him in the first three, but he said no, give him time to settle and come home and he was right.

"They went a good gallop. The ground was a bit dead and he picked up when I really needed him to. He jumped super. It's great to be back, a lot of people have helped me, including my family."

Nicholls added: "You need to stay in this race. Cue Card beat him last year in the Bumper when we gave him weight. This is the first time I've ever had the horse right and it was a brilliant ride. It's great for Ruby.

"We've had a few get beat in the last fortnight and some people were questioning our form, but all I was concentrating on was getting the horses right for this week.

"If they all go like that we'll be laughing. To start like that takes the pressure off and it's amazing for Ruby to be able to do that. It's brilliant for him."

Cue Card's trainer Colin Tizzard said: "He ran well, he just wasn't as good as the others on the day. He's got no excuses, he got there as well as any. It was a championship race and he still ran a fantastic race. Who knows what we'll do now?"

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