Mullins to Challenge Altior In Day Two Feature

Mullins to Challenge Altior In Day Two Feature

Worldpay has outlined its predictions for this week's Cheltenham Festival, detailing that there could be as much as a 45% surge in online betting activity during the four-day festival, as racing fans seek to beat the bookies.

The world famous Cheltenham Festival got off to a flyer on Tuesday when the Nicky Henderson-trained Buveur D'Air became the first horse since Hardy Eustace in 2005 to win back-to-back Grade 1 Champion Hurdles.

As Faugheen dropped back Melon slipped through and battle was engaged from over the last two flights between the Champion Hurdle's dominant powerhouses of Henderson and Mullins.

The first back-to-back victor of the hurdling highlight since Hardy Eustace in 2004 and 2005, Buveur D'Air, the 4/6 favourite was always prominent under Barry Geraghty and despite being headed by the Willie Mullins-trained Melon (7/1), the seven-year-old son of Crillon rallied tenaciously under Geraghty to win by a neck in a thrilling finish.

The Willie Mullins-trained Next Destination (4/1) stayed on strongly to finish a further five lengths behind in third.

But Buveur D'Air righted the ship for Britain's champion trainer after a desperate overhauling of the gallant Melon by a neck in the nick of time. They've gone a gallop there. Two years ago, we saw seven horses lose their lives during the highly anticipated racing festival.

"Unlike some of his prep races, this was a proper race and he showed his class". He is a really good young horse, he did what he had to today.

"We were anxious last week with the snow that it might even have been cancelled but I think it's going to be busier than ever", he said. "I thought we had it all to do after the last but it was his strength that got us through".

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".

"It's going to be fun, it's got to be, otherwise we wouldn't be doing it".

"Last year was tough but I can't have any complaints now", he said.

There has been an outpour of support for the 38-year-old jockey and Paddy Power, which Walsh is a brand ambassador for, have said that they will pay out anyone that backed Walsh to be top jockey at the festival.