Odds-on favourite Buveur d’Air has claimed the Champion Hurdle – the feature race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival.
The Barry Geraghty mount held off a stiff challenge from the Willie Mullins-trained Melon to come home a 6-to-4-on favourite to retain his title.
The Gordon Elliott-trained Mick Jazz was third at a price of 25-to 1.
Mike Vince describes a thrilling finish
Winning rider Barry Geraghty spoke to Racing UK
Kerry jockey Jack Kennedy was 3rd aboard Apple’s Jade in the Mares Hurdle.
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh have combined for two winners – the most recent being 9-to-2 shot Benie des Dieux in that Mares Hurdle.
Earlier, they teamed up for victory in the Arkle, with 6-to-5-on favourite Footpad recovering from a mistake on the back straight to hold off the challenge of Nicky Henderson’s Brain Power who placed second at a price of 14-to-1.
Mullins picked up a third win of the day, with Rathvinden winning the National Hunt Chase.
The Tom George-trained Summerville Boy won the opening race of the festival – the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – at a price of 9-to-1.
The 6-year old finished just a neck ahead of 5-to-1 chance, Kalashnikov, with Mengli Khan in third under Jack Kennedy.
The 5-to-1 favourite Coo Star Sivola claimed the Ultima Handicap Chase.
The Nick Williams-trained horse just pipped 14-to-1 chance Shantou Flyer to the post.
Mister Whitaker was a 13/2 winner of the closing event of the day.
Star chaser Altior’s recovered from an injury scare and the big clash of the Cheltenham Festival between him and Irish heavyweights Min and Douvan in tomorrow’s Queen Mother Champion Chase is on.
Mike Vince reports
Rob Kearney didn’t train with the rest of the Ireland squad today, but it is hoped the full-back will be fine for Saturday’s Grand Slam decider at Twickenham.
The squad continued their preparations for the game with England at Carton House this afternoon.
Skills and Kicking Coach Richie Murphy says Kearney’s load is just being managed, and he is fit for selection for Saturday’s crunch clash.
Lock Devin Toner says Ireland need to be wary of an England side looking to avoid a third defeat in a row
Connacht have tied Eoghan Masterson to a new two-year contract.
The back row will stay at the Sportsground until at least the summer of 2020.
Masterson has made nearly 60-appearances for Connacht, almost half of which have come this season.
Marco Silva and Mark Hughes are the early favourites to become the next Southampton manager – after Mauricio Pellegrino was sacked last night.
The Argentine lost his job following just one win in their last 17 Premier League games.
That form’s left them a point above the relegation zone.