Ruby Walsh opened day two of the Cheltenham Festival with a winner as Yorkhill took the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.
The Willie Mullins-trained Yorkhill had been switched from the opening day’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in favour of the Neptune and the move was vindicated as the gelding proved too strong for the favourite Yanworth.
Walsh enjoyed a dream passage up the inside rail on the turn into the home straight and Yorkhill kept on well after the last flight to beat Yanworth by a length-and-three-quarters.
Another Mullins runner Thomas Hobson set the pace in the 2m5f contest although he was far from fluent at the second and third hurdles, while Yala Enki was pulled up as the field turned away from the stands.
There was scrimmaging after jumping five out as O O Seven tightened up A Toi Phil before Its’afreebee moved alongside Thomas Hobson after jumping the fourth last.
There were plenty still in with chances coming down the hill as Walsh sat confidently in behind, with O O Seven briefly taking it up on the run to the second last.
A mistake at that flight briefly knocked Yanworth’s momentum on the outside as Walsh cruised through on the inner aboard Yorkhill.
Walsh only asked for an effort after jumping the final flight and, while Yanworth started to come back at him in the final 100 yards, he was on top at the line, with Its’afreebee running a big race in third.
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