t was a fantastic start for the favourites on day one of the Cheltenham Festival as both Appreciate It and Shishkin easily triumphed early on.
8-11 favourite Appreciate It romped home in the opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for Willie Mullins and jockey Paul Townend, pulling clear ahead of Blue Lord, who fell at the last.
That allowed Ballyadam to claim second place ahead of For Pleasure.
“It’s a great start to the meeting. I couldn’t believe that he won so easy,” said trainer Mullins.
“Things were looking a bit tough rounding the last bend in Leopardstown (last month) and we were wondering whether he’d left his best performance of the year there (at Christmas), so we just brought home and freshened him up and it seems to have worked.
“The way he finished the race today he looks as good as any of our previous winners of the race – it was a Vautour-like performance.”
There was also no shock in the subsequent Arkle Challenge Trophy, with the dominant Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin – the 4-9 favourite ridden by Nico de Boinville – winning by 12 lengths with another formidable showing.
Eldorado Allen was second ahead of Captain Guinness and Allmankind.
The headline race of day one at Cheltenham – taking place behind closed doors for the first time due to the Covid-19 pandemic – is the Champion Hurdle, where the likes of Honeysuckle, Epatante and Goshen will all go head to head.
Additional reporting by PA.