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  • Ballyalton In Supreme Picture

British Stallion Studs E.B.F. National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle (Qualifier) 2m 1f

  • (4-6yo, 2m 1f, Class 3, 9 runners)
  • Winner £7,507 2nd £2,218 3rd £1,109 4th £554 5th £277 6th £139
  • Going: Good (Cross Country: Good, Good to Firm in places)
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 4m 26.90s
  • Off time: 15:51:53
  • Last Updated: December 13 2013, 17:36 GMT

Ballyalton proved best in the British Stallions Studs EBF National Hunt Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Tony McCoy: Secured a double courtesy of Ballyalton
Tony McCoy: Secured a double courtesy of Ballyalton

Tony McCoy was to prove masterful in the saddle in securing his double on the card, but much credit has to go to the horse after he recovering from a blunder that he made at the fifth flight.

In what was widely thought to be one of the best novice events of the season, nobody appeared keen to make the running and the field literally crawled past the starter following the release of the tapes with Doctor Harper forced into the role of reluctant leader.

Though surrendering that position briefly to rank outsider, Ghost Of A Smile, Tom Scudamore took the lead again on the way to the sixth as the market principals began to take their positions and make their assault on home.

Surprisingly Doctor Harper was first to wilt and having seen off the challenge of former Irish pointer, Cocktails At Dawn, the winner and Garde La Victoire set out up the run in to do battle.

Both cleared the last well but it was Ian Williams' six-year-old that was to gain the verdict by a neck.

The winning trainer said of the contest: "It was a tough race today and we wanted to give him a tough race and he's learnt a lot. There's lots to look forward to, he's not a hurdler he's a chaser.

  • Wonderful Charm jumps alongside Oscar Whisky in the Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices' Chase
  • The field are tightly grouped in the Caspian Caviar Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase
  • King Massini leads from Al Alfa
  • King Massini has a clear advantage but had to work hard for victory
  • The Skyfarmer and Lyvius go toe-to-toe
  • Zara Phillips looks pensive before Monbeg Dude's run
  • So too does co-owner Mike Tindall
  • Theatre Guide travelled strongly
  • But couldn't repel the Dude on the run-in
  • The winner now has the Grand National in his sights
  • Winning trainer Michael Scudamore is all smiles
  • Sire Collonges leads the field in the cross-country
  • Shalimar Fromentro, Imperial Circus and Sire Collonges jump the fence spectacularly
  • Sunnyhillboy rolls back the years in the three mile handicap hurdle
  • The bookmakers' boards shine brightly in the gloaming
  • Ballyalton sends some punters home happy in the finale
All of the best images from the opening day of The International

"He has got to prove himself in a Grade One now, so there is the Challow and maybe even the Tolworth. I think by the Festival we will be going the two-mile-five route (Neptune).

"I'm not sure Philip should be so disappointed as we think our fellow is a very, very good horse."

Hobbs was not too downbeat although he was left contemplating whether to lower his sights: "He's done very well, it was a bit of a muddly race," he said.

"The winner looks like he's a good horse too and they've pulled away so we'll see. Whether he's good enough to run in the top novice hurdles now I don't know."

Sky Bet go 16/1 from 33s about the winner for the Sky Bet Supreme and spokesman Michael Shinners said: "He's beaten a very good yardstick today after getting into a battle up the hill and that will do him good as far as the Festival is concerned. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to develop at this trip, or whether he steps back up in distance before the Festival."

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