Ivanovich Gorbatov was an impressive winner of the JCB Triumph Hurdle, as the Aidan O'Brien-trained raider outbattled Apple's Jade in a stunning finish to the Cheltenham Festival opener on Friday, as favourite backers rejoiced as they cheered home the Irish raider, which handed Barry Geraghty his first winner of the meeting.
Easy to back in the hours before the race, this four-year-old, who has been under the stewardship of fledgling trainer and former Derby-winning jockey, was piled into in the betting in the minutes leading up to the start, and having been sent off the 9/2 jolly he handed another blow to bookmakers after a torrid day yesterday.
Apple's Jade appeared to be his only danger as they sprinted towards the final flight, but as he gained his balance after the final hurdle he picked up in impressive fashion and Geraghty cajoled his mount clear, with him pulling one-and-a-quarter lengths clear at the finish.
The victory saw Ireland go 12-10 clear in the BetBright Cup, but while the horse could be a 2017 Champion Hurdle candidate, much will be made about the emerging training talents of Joseph O'Brien, who is set to follow in his father's footsteps at the highest level.
13:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 1.Ivanovich Gorbatov - A O'Brien - B Geraghty - 9/2F 2.Apple's Jade - W Mullins - B Cooper - 12/1 3.Footpad - W Mullins - R Walsh -5/1 15 Ran