• Racing/
  • Aubusson Posts Cheltenham Surprise

Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle 2m 4f 110y

  • (4yo+, 2m 4f 110y, Class 3, 6 runners)
  • Winner £6,256 2nd £1,848 3rd £924 4th £462 5th £231 6th £116
  • Going: Soft, Heavy in places
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 5m 31.10s
  • Off time: 12:11:17
  • Last Updated: January 1 2014, 18:46 GMT

Aubusson was a shock winner of the opener on Cheltenham's card at odds of 9/1.

A delighted Lizzie Kelly takes the opener on Aubusson
A delighted Lizzie Kelly takes the opener on Aubusson

The five-year-old had won at 33/1 on his debut for Nick Williams at Chepstow and he proved that victory to be no fluke as he followed up here under 7lb amateur, Lizzie Kelly.

In a race staged at a steady pace given the inclement weather conditions, Racing Pulse and Regal Diamond cut out the early work but Kelly allowed her mount to take closer order as they jumped the seventh flight and having taken the lead with three to jump, the ex-French inmate galloped resolutely to the line to take victory.

Owner Jane Williams was full of praise for the successful rider, her daughter, after greeting the winner.

  • It was wet and windy at Cheltenham for racegoers...
  • ...and conditions were particularly testing for the horses
  • Aubusson provided a shock in the opener...
  • ...to the delight of his rider, Lizzie Kelly
  • Sam Twiston-Davies shows just how much mud was flying at headquarters...
  • ...as Mendip Express continued to impress under Will Biddick.
  • Oscar Whisky and Taquin Du Seuil renewed rivalries in the Dipper Chase...
  • ...but Oscar Whisky powered up the hill to take victory.
  • Return Spring (left) got the better of a tenacious battle with Quartz De Thaix (right)
  • Pickamus and Cedre Bleu chase Double Ross in the Fairlawne Handicap...
  • ...and Double Ross lands a second Cheltenham contest inside 18 days.
  • Zarkandar and Annie Power fought out the Dornan Engineering Hurdle...
  • ...but Ruby Walsh was all smiles as the mare retained her unbeaten record.
  • The clean silks tell the story. Modus truly dotted up in the finale.
All the best images from New Year's Day at Cheltenham.

She said: "We were almost scared to bring the horse to Cheltenham but that makes him one of the top novices in the country. When we saw the rain that was all to the good, but he won't get those conditions at the Festival so that must be in doubt

"All credit to Lizzie. I'm thrilled for her riding her first winner at Cheltenham. This horse is very straightforward - you could ride him at pony club - but Lizzie's had 25 winners and it's a day she'll never forget."

Kelly said: "There are only so many opportunities to ride against professionals at Cheltenham so I shall live the moment.

"When we got into the straight, it was blowing so hard that it was a tough job to keep in a straight line, but he was so tough for me and he should stay further. It's a day I'll never forget - I probably won't ever ride a winner here again!"

Well-backed joint-favourite Ballyalton was held up in the early stages but was unable to pick up the leaders at the finish having appeared to be travelling well enough two out.

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