A general view of the racecourse through the race cards stand at Prestbury Park.
Kennedy had to avoid traffic on a couple of occasions, with joint-favourite Ballyandy badly hampered in midfield, but by the time the field turned for home, Labaik was cruising behind the leaders.
Djakadam is now the third favourite, behind Cue Card and Native River.
Labaik’s win announced his 17-year-old jockey Jack Kennedy as a superstar in the making, something Irish racegoers have known for some time.
I’m also far from convinced that favourite Might Bite will be suited by Cheltenham. He goes well at Cheltenham and he bounces off good ground.
“It just all worked out today”. I can’t recall the place looking quite as “forward” as it does at the moment – you can tell in the town, the daffodils are out.
“I’ve always said he’s our best work horse in the yard”.
“You don’t want to get beat, but knowing she would improve we were fine”.
There was a lot of chatter about Cheltenham 2017 being “diminished” with the absence of horses such as Faugheen, Annie Power, Don Cossack, Thistlecrack and Vautour, but that ignores the competitiveness of the Festival and the potential for new stories to be told and new heroes to emerge.
It is nothing new to see horses who have shown an aptitude for the festival in the past returning to Cheltenham and delivering the goods again but if a reminder was ever needed, Tuesday was it. “If he’s going to run again, I would have thought Sandown”.
“I felt he had unfinished business over hurdles”, said his prophetic trainer.
For nine consecutive years Willie Mullins has been Irish champion trainer and in four of the last five seasons he has been the dominant force at the Festival.
River Wylde finished third but was another eight lengths in arrears.
Vroum Vroum Mag had to settle for second place with Limini, the 6-4 favourite, in third. He continues to go from strength to strength and on the evidence of recent wins at Cork, Leopardstown and Punchestown, very few will be betting against him notching up his third Cheltenham Festival success in the Betway Champion Chase on Wednesday.
The trainer has a noteworthy record in the ultra competitive Coral Cup having won the race twice in the last six years as well as saddling several placed horses and Automated has had this race as his target for several months.
Ben Linfoot’s Value Bet aim: The Value Bet is created to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK.
“He’s got a long way to go”. If you plan to watch the races today on ITV, then take advantage of the “Price Promise” offer in which bet365 guarantees the best price amongst all of the biggest and best sportsbooks in the world giving an extra edge on each bet.
“We had a good day on Sunday with visits from Nicky Henderson, Alan King, Jonjo O’Neill and Ben Pauling,”said Claisse”. He stayed on well, though. He won the big hunters’ chases at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown in 2015 and again past year and will be a popular choice to do so again after a hugely promising seasonal return when runner-up to Foxrock in the Leopardstown Inn Hunters Chase at Leopardstown in mid-February.
King had a disappointment with Yanworth in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday but he’s got a very strong team of juveniles, headed by Triumph Hurdle fancy Master Blueyes on Friday.