JP McManus celebrates magnificent seventh Champion Hurdle wins at Cheltenham

Champion jockey Ruby Walsh has re-injured his leg in a fall at the Cheltenham Festival

Champion jockey Ruby Walsh has re-injured his leg in a fall at the Cheltenham Festival

The champion trainer has won the race three more times and the prospect of an extended three miles, fences and soft ground could be just what his big hope, Al Boum Photo, requires to win. Two years ago, we saw seven horses lose their lives during the highly anticipated racing festival.

"It was terrific performance from Melon and it's vindicated what we thought of him".

Winning jockey Barry Geraghty, who missed the Champion Hurdle victory previous year, said: "It's real winter conditions out there and very tacky down the back straight".

A delighted Henderson said: "It was a brilliant race". It was Geraghty's third Unibet Champion Hurdle victor [after Punjabi and Jezki] and his 35th Festival victory in total.

He's proved he is very good - you don't win these back-to-back unless you are very good, and he's won everything all season.

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

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Elliott raised the possibility of a Champion Hurdle tilt next year, but stressed all plans would be discussed in due course.

"He won it the hard way, he battled hard".

The champion hurdler is owned by Geraghty's patron J P McManus, and Geraghty said: "It was a long year last year, but it's been a great year this time and I can't complain". He's a top-class horse. I tried to save as much as I could on the turn in and go for him as late as possible and he found when it was needed.

There is no doubt Altior is the one to beat, having made a solid enough return when slamming Politologue at Newbury. It was a proper race and the runner-up put it up. He proved there he was a better horse than he was previous year.

Rather boringly, Elliott's top boy for the big occasion is now going for the same race he won previous year, the Cross Country Chase (4.10), and I fancy him to go well again when it matters before going on to Aintree for the Grand National, in which he finished runner-up last April. "He really dug deep and was a scrapper today".

Teenager Jack Kennedy's mount is the new star of irish racing and Elliott said: "Samcro is an absolute pleasure to train".

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The Mullins pair, Brahma Bull and Scarpeta, are clearly talented while it looks significant that Duc Des Genievres is given another crack at Samcro rather than waiting for Friday's Albert Bartlett.

"Faugheen probably wants a longer trip at this stage of his career", said the trainer.

This has lead to many welfare agencies and equine fanatics pleading for action to be taken against the British Horseracing Authority, who are ultimately responsible for the safety regulations for any horse or jockey who competes at one of their venues or in one of their competitions.

"He's come back fine, all mine have". Even O'Leary and Elliott's Gold Cup-winner Don Cossack didn't conjure the same expectation as this horse.

Owner Philip Reynolds said: "He gave us a super day previous year".

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