Espoir D’Allen has produced a scintillating performance to win the Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the famous Cheltenham jumps festival.
The Nicky Henderson-trained Buveur D’Air was bidding to join the greats by recording a third successive victory in the race and Espoir D’Allen lined up very much under the radar.
Despite having won each of his three previous starts this season, and eight of his nine since joining trainer Gavin Cromwell, Espoir D’Allen was at 16-1 but there was certainly no fluke about his devastating display.
Buveur D’Air came to grief at the third obstacle while the prolific Apple’s Jade was in trouble some way out.
With the way clear, Walsh on Espoir D’Allen engaged overdrive from the home turn to power 15 lengths clear.
“It’s brilliant, unbelievable,” Cromwell said..
“He’s been winning Grade Threes this year, so to win this is fantastic.
“I’m shell-shocked to win anyway, but to win like that – I’m just lost for words.
“When Buveur D’Air fell, we nearly got brought down. It’s unbelievable, I’m completely lost for words.”
While out of luck in the feature event, it was another productive opening day for Irish trainer Willie Mullins as he saddled Klassical Dream to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and swiftly followed up with Duc Des Genievres in the Arkle Challenge Trophy.
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