Footpad was a runaway winner of the 2018 Arkle Challenge Trophy on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, as the 5/6 favourite romped to a 14-length success, which saw the pair of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh pick up their first winner of this year's National Hunt showpiece.
Petit Mouchoir and Saint Calvados launched clear from the start, and as the pair eye-balled each other on the speed, Walsh elected to sit off the pace and work his way into the race, but while it appeared to be all going to plan, the jolly made an almighty hash of the first fence down the back straight, and it left favourite backers praying for Walsh to maintain the partnership.
That he did, and as he got his mount back into the swing of jumping well again, up front it was Saint Calvados, who failed to maintain the gallop, and he quickly fell back, leaving Petit Mouchoir well clear of the closing Footpad, who was now looking ominous.
Walsh gradually reeled in Davy Russell on Petit Mouchoir, and as they turned for home Footpad was sent to win his race, and with Brain Power bridging the gap to Petit Mouchoir, Footpad was well clear, and a fine leap at the last fence sealed the first win of the meeting for the Irish, and the Mullins-trained star stormed to a 14-length win over Brain Power.
14:10 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase (Grade 1)
1.Footpad - W Mullins - R Walsh - 5/6f
2.Brain Power - N Henderson - N De Boinville - 14/1