Day One of the 2009 Cheltenham Festival, saw two favourites win putting at least some sort of smile on the faces of most of the 50,000 punters at Prestbury Park
The biggest surprise of the day however was the defeat of Binocular the long time hot antepost favourite for the Champion Hurdle. He could only manage third in a thrilling and fierce finish which saw his stablemate, Punjabi take the honours; Punjabi finished third in the race last year.
The first race, the Supreme Novices Hurdle was won in gritty style by Noel Meade's, Go Native at 12-1, who became the first of four Irish winners of the day. The others were Forpadydaplasterer, who impressively won the Arkle Trophy Chase at 8-1, Gard Champetre (7-2) who won the Cross Country for the second successive year and Quevega was the most impressive winner of the day, when he came home by 14 lengths in the final race of the day, the David Nicholsons Mares Hurdle.
The Jonjo O'Neill trained Witchita Lineman won the William Hill Trophy but only because jockey Tony McCoy produced the ride of the day and possibly of the week. Jonjo is of course an Irishman who trains in the UK. The only British trainer to have a win was of course Nicky Henderson with Punjabi.
Barry Geraghty took the lead in the Jockey's championship with two winners, McCoy, Ruby Walsh, Nina Carberry and Phillip Carberry.
Not unsurprisingly, Edna Bolger trained the first three home in the Cross Country Chase and all three were owned by JP McManus who also owns Wichita Lineman.
Overall it was a great day for the Bookmakers and an even better one for the Irish