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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 11 March, 2003, 13:31 GMT
Tuesday at Cheltenham
Top jockey Tony McCoy
It was not a good day for Tony McCoy
The first day of National Hunt's big event finished with Rooster Booster taking the plaudits for a stirring victory in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle, the feature race.

And Barry Geraghty rode two winners, but it was a miserable day for top jockey Tony McCoy, who took a heavy fall in the Champion Hurdle and gave up his two mounts for the rest of the day.

1720 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle (3m 1 f)

1. Inching Closer (B Geraghty) 6-1f
2. Royal Emperor (D Elsworth) 14-1
3. Tribal Venture (D Russell) 33-1
4. Ravenswood (T Scudamore) 7-1
24 ran

There was a photo finish to the most exciting race of the day, with Inching Closer taking the honours ahead of Royal Emperor to give Barry Geraghty his second winner of the day.

The two horses were inseperable from the final hurdle, although Royal Emperor and its jockey Dominic Elsworth may rue running through the fence rather than jumping it.

1640 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (3m f)

1. Royal Predica (S McHugh) 33-1
2. Ibis Rochelais (L McGrath) 4-1f
3. Rathbawn Prince (R Loughran) 40-1
4. Montreal (J E Moore) 12-1
23 ran

Rank-outsider Royal Predica, trained by Martin Pipe, produced an inspired finish to power away from the rest of the field. and win the race.

The horse comfortably jumped the final fence and won by 10 lengths as favourite Ibis Rochelais failed to keep pace.

Jockey Saul McHugh made sure that the winning nine-year-old kept its composure in front of a now strangely subdued crowd.

Despite not having seen racecourse duty for over 300 days, the horse managed to come from the back of the pack for an outright win.

"He's had his problems since he last ran and you cannot run them if they are not right but the owners have been very patient and he's come right for them today," said trainer Martin Pipe.

1600 William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase (3m f)
1. Youlneverwalkalone (B Geraghty) 7-1
2. Haut Cercy (R Johnson) 10-1
3. Ad Hoc (R Walsh) 5-1jf
4. Maximise (T Murphy) 20-1
18 ran

Youlneverwalkalone took the honours after an exciting finish.

The winning horse, owned by multi-millionaire JP McManus, had spent the majority of the race behind Haut Cercy.

Going into the home straight, there was nothing to choose between the two, but over the closing 100 yards, the winner found the extra speed to take the race by three quarters of a length.

It meant that jockey Richard Johnson, who had won the Champion Hurdle in the previous race, had to content himself with second place this time.

Barry Geraghty rode the winner, who is trained by Christy Roche.

1515 Smurfit Champion Hurdle (2m f)
1. Rooster Booster (R Johnson) 9-2
2. Westender (R Greene) 33-1
3. Rhinestone Cowboy (N Williamson) 5-2f
17 ran

Rooster Booster, trained by Philip Hobbs, claims a comfortable 11-length victory.

The nine-year-old, trained by Philip Hobbs and one of the oldest horses in the race, jumped superbly under the guidance of Richard Johnson.

In a dramatic race, last year's winner Hors La Loi III refused to start after the 17 runners were forced to wait longer than anticipated at the tape.

As expected, Intersky Falcon set the early pace and was in touch until the final straight.

But Rooster Booster stayed in touch and, after the fall of Tony McCoy's mount Copeland at the second last, jumped the last well clear of Westender and Intersky Falcon to extend his advantage on the run-in.

The pre-race favourite Rhinestone Cowboy looked a shadow of himself and eventually finished in third.

1435 Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (2m)
1. Azertyuiop (R Walsh) 5/4f
2. Impek (J Culloty) 6-1
3. Isio (M Fitzgerald) 10-1
9 ran

In what was a popular win, the strong favourite showed his class to record a comfortable win and inflict more misery on the bookies.

Azertyuiop took the lead after the early falls of both Adamant Approach and Le Roi Miguel and never looked in any danger.

Some superb jumping kept him in the lead down the hill and he kicked strongly for home to pull clear of his rivals.

Impek and Isio battleed it out for second and third place with Jim Culloty's mount edging it by a length.

1400 Gerrard Wealth Management Supreme Novices' Hurdle (2m f)
1. Back In Front (N Williamson) 3-1f
2. Kicking King (B Geraghty) 13-2
3. Chauvinist (M Fitzgerald) 20-1
19 ran

In the end it was a comfortable victory for the Edward O'Grady-trained favourite, who pulled clear at the final turn and jumped the last well ahead of his rivals to win easily by 10 lengths.

Although the early pace was set by Tony McCoy on Lirfox, Back In Front stayed in touch and showed his class with two hurdles to go to record his third win in a row.

Kicking King held on well to complete an Irish one-two and start early celebrations at Prestbury Park with Mick Fitzgerald's mount Chauvninist another four lengths back.






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