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Cheltenham: Jack Kennedy wins Supreme Novices' Hurdle for Gordon Elliott

Ireland got off to a flying start at the Cheltenham Festival as Labaik won the opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by rising star Jack Kennedy, 17, the grey six-year-old belied odds of 25-1 to readily deny compatriot and 3-1 favourite Melon by two and a quarter lengths.

"Words can't describe what it's like," Kennedy told ITV Racing.

"I was probably a little bit far back but they went a good gallop.

"It couldn't have gone any better.

Labaik's career had been blighted by truculence as he has twice refused to race and was hardly a willing runner when sixth at Naas last month.

Labaik benefited from a stealthy Kennedy ride as he only burst into contention after the long-time leader Cilaos Emery faded after the last flight.

The much-vaunted Melon turned in a really accomplished display for one so inexperienced, but Ruby Walsh's partner could simply not live with the winner, who was providing Kennedy with a first Festival triumph.

River Wylde finished third but was another eight lengths in arrears.

Elliott said: "He could have gone to Naas on Sunday, I said to the lads it wouldn't be as embarrassing if he refuses there.

"It just all worked out today. I told Jack if he jumped off to just hunt around and ride him for a place.

"I've always said he's our best work horse in the yard.

"I don't care if he never jumps off again!"

Kennedy added: "I always enjoyed watching it (as a boy) and it's great to get a taste of it.

"Everyone wants more, but I'll be going home a very happy lad at the end of the week now, however things go.

"It's brilliant."

Altior did exactly what was expected of him by easily winning the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy.

It would have been interesting had Charbel not fallen two fences from home, but the brilliant 1-4 favourite readily batted away runner-up Cloudy Dream from there to score by six lengths.

Trainer Nicky Henderson said: "They went a good gallop and Charbel was still galloping away, but we jumped and travelled well.

"We knew he'd come up the hill. He's very, very good and there's a lot to look forward to.

"We've gone down the chase route and we'll have to stick to that now."

On immediate plans, he added: "It's not the sort of thing we need to jump to straight after the race, but there's no reason why you shouldn't run again, Sandown would be the obvious way of going but he won't go to Aintree. If he's going to run again, I would have thought Sandown."

Charbel's jockey David Bass said: "I'm fine. It was a very tricky fence and it claims quite a few of us.

"He didn't jump it badly, he just knuckled on landing."

In the third, Un Temps Pour Tout bravely won back-to-back renewals of the Ultima Handicap Chase.

David Pipe's inmate fought back like a seriously tough beast to get the measure of 5-1 favourite Singlefarmpayment after a pulse-chasing finish.

A photo-finish was called, but Tom Scudamore''s partner, who was saddled with top weight, had just enough in reserve when it mattered.

Pipe said of the 9-1 winner: "I'm absolutely thrilled and Tom has given him an amazing ride.

"It was a great performance from the horse under top weight and it was a tougher race than last year, I thought.

"He found a lot under pressure, he's not very big but he finds a lot and he's a good horse on a going day."

Scudamore said: "Pipe's a genius, nothing more needs to be said.

"He's a different horse in the spring and he loves the hill. I knew halfway up the run-in I'd win, he's so tough.

"I'm so pleased for everyone."

Un Temps Pour Tout's winning distance was a short head, with Noble Endeavor and Buywise third and fourth respectively.

Pipe added: "We fancied him in the Hennessy and he didn't perform that day.

"You could tell from an early stage he was going to run a big race.

"He's very gutsy. He's some horse."


From Belfast Telegraph