Friday 20 April 2018

Ruby hot favourite for title after entering record books

Ruby Walsh is rated a 1/3 hot favourite to be top jockey at Cheltenham after tightening his grip on the trophy yesterday.

Walsh has now become the Festival's most successful jockey with 26 winners after making it two triumphs this week aboard Sanctuaire in the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices' Handicap Hurdle.

The Kildare native, who has surpassed the previous record of Pat Taaffe, has also plenty to look forward to this afternoon and tomorrow.

Walsh has a second to his name from the Champion Bumper, but is level on winners with Barry Geraghty, who secured a double on Big Zeb in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and Spirit River in the Coral Cup.

Hills offer Geraghty (pictured right) at 4/1, with Tony McCoy currently trading at 7s.

Bookmakers were cock-a-hoop after Day Two as the second banker of the week, Master Minded, was blown out of the water.

Paul Nicholls' chaser was attempting to become only the second horse to win three consecutive Queen Mother Champion Chases, but the distress signals were out early and he could only finish fourth to Big Zeb.

Along with that, there were relatively big-price wins in the RSA Chase as Weapon's Amnesty (10/1) saw off the Nicky Henderson duo of Long Run and Punchestowns, while Spirit River (14/1) prevailed in the Coral Cup.

Poker De Sivola in the National Hunt Chase and Cue Card in the closing Bumper -- at 40/1 -- were other results that had the bookies laughing all the way to the bank for a second day. "We can't recall when a festival started so badly for punters. It has been another stellar day for the bookies," said David Hood of William Hill.

Meanwhile, Noel Meade reports his Go Native none the worse for wear after disappointing in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday.

The seven-year-old went into the race as clear favourite following wins in the Fighting Fifth and Christmas Hurdle, but failed to land a blow and passed the post 10th of the 12 runners.

"We'll get him back home and if he's OK, we'll obviously look at Punchestown."

Irish Independent

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