JP McManus celebrates magnificent seventh Champion Hurdle wins at Cheltenham

Jockeys and horses had been out early Tuesday morning on the gallops at the famous venue

Mullins locks horns with Nicky Henderson once again today.

It was another big race victory for his trainer Nicky Henderson, after Buveur D'Air yesterday, and his jockey Nico de Boinville kept his cool when things did not go to plan mid-race.

The Willie Mullins-trained Next Destination (4/1) stayed on strongly to finish a further five lengths behind in third.

Henderson's charge, who had won all three starts comfortably this season, was made to work hard for victory.

Paul Nicholls' seven-year-old would be a hugely popular victor but it looks like a battle between the top two with last year's Albert Bartlett Hurdle second Monalee bouncing back from a Christmas spill to score at Leopardstown last time out. Despite him also being the stable's third or fourth string in the race, there's a temptation to take some of the 33/1 ew or indeed 16/1 w/o fav.

He will now be set to become the sixth triple victor of the Champion Hurdle as an eight-year-old next year.

Henderson, saddling his seventh Champion Hurdle victor, said: "It was a good race, a proper race".

Once again his ferocious gallop kept him always in a unsafe position, he smoothly headed to the front, jumped assertively over the last and comfortably saw off a top-class field.

"Two very courageous horses and two great jockeys - I'm sure we got headed at the last and he was fearless to come back".

The most exciting novice to race in Ireland for some years, Samcro, has his date with destiny in the first race on day 2, the Ballymore Novices Hurdle. It's just been in the back of my mind and has always anxious me.

Buveur D'Air could now bid for a second win in the Aintree Hurdle on Grand National Thursday on April 12. I bet it was a course record for heavy ground. The ground made it the ultimate test.

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Nothing would make me happier than a top-level British-bred victor at the Festival and returning hero PRESENTING PERCY (GB) could well be the one to get the ball rolling here today. It was a proper race and the runner-up put it up. The Grade 1 race covers a total of 3 miles 2/1 furlongs and welcomes the world's best race horses to the circuit each year.

"He just does everything so easy at home and is very obliging and laid back". He's a top-class horse.

"It's great to get a victor - I missed last season and it's great to get a big victor for your boss".

Elliott could also hold the key here, however, with last year's victor Cause Of Causes bidding for an astonishing fourth straight Festival win under Jamie Codd. "That is a big relief, you are expected to collect and he has done".

"They were two very fearless horses, with two courageous jockeys".

Both Presenting Percy and Monalee can handle very testing conditions.

"Joe Donnelly, who owns the second, I've known him many years. He was a bookmaker, I was a punter and half a bookmaker, and at the time they felt more important than this victor today". Even if they thought it was a penalty kick and he got a battle, he did what he had to do and did it well.

My only concern is the ground for him but at 6/1 it's factored into the price and I think he'll run a big race.

Teenager Jack Kennedy's mount is the new star of irish racing and Elliott said: "Samcro is an absolute pleasure to train". He is a really good young horse, he did what he had to today.

Owner Philip Reynolds said: "He gave us a super day past year". The horse is fine - all my runners have come back fine. It is the novice version of the race so you need a potential Gold Cup horse for the future.

"We've been up and down in trip, over fences and hurdles - we'll see where we go from here".


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