Willie Mullins helped punters seize the advantage after day one of Cheltenham
It’s first blood to punters at the Cheltenham Festival – and despite Min’s early exit – even more proof that you should always think with your Willie.
Paddy Power was staring down the apocalypse in the morning with the Willie Mullins four-fold lining up to drive the boss out of business, but it wasn’t quite to be as Paddy dodged a bullet but ran in to a brick wall in the process as Willie banged in a trio of winners.
Min was the Mullins casualty to let down a world of accumulators as Nicky Henderson’s Altior won the opening race, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. But Paddy Power had already committed to refunding losing punts as a free bet if your horse finishes second in a race at the Festival, so the joy was short lived.
Not only did Paddy have to pay out on 4/1 winner Altior, but the Min refund set the gaffer back close to €1 million as punter’s had a collective sigh of relief.
It was then one-way traffic for the day – and that traffic was mostly bank notes disappearing from Paddy Power’s bank balance.
Douvan bagged the Arkle at odds of 1/4 before Annie Power delighted the team of Ruby Walsh, Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci by winning the Champion Hurdle at odds of 5/2. Banishing memories of her last hurdle horror fall 12 months ago. Mullins clicked the treble little more than half an hour later as Vroum Vroum Mag justified her tag of 4/6 favourite in the Mare’s Hurdle to compound a miserable day for the layers.
It’s the biggest spanking we’ve seen in Power Tower since Paddy showed us his attempt at a 50 Shades of Grey audition. It wasn’t pretty.
Elsewhere, Un Temps Pour Tout won the Ultima Handicap Chase at 11/1, the well-backed Minella Rocco won the National Hunt Chase at 8/1 and Ballyalton won the Novices’ Handicap Chase at 12/1.
It wasn’t quite the bloodbath Paddy dreaded, but it was too close to comfort!