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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 March, 2004, 17:41 GMT
Tuesday at Cheltenham
Champion jockey Tony McCoy celebrates his win on Well Chief in the Arkle Trophy
The 33-1 shot Hardy Eustace caused a shock with a victory over defending champion Rooster Booster in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle, the feature race on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival.

It was an emotional moment for trainer Dessie Hughes, whose horse had won last year's Royal & Sun Alliance Novice Hurdle, ridden by jockey Kieran Kelly, who later died after a fall at Kilbeggan last August.

Well Chief gave the partnership between Tony McCoy and Martin Pipe a boost with a victory over Irish challenger Kicking King in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy.

It was only Well Chief's second race over fences but he emerged victorious by a length.

Pipe claimed a second winner later on when the 40-1 shot Maximise, ridden by 19-year-old Darren Edwards won the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase.


1720: Pertemps Final - Handicap Hurdle (3m 1f)
1. Creon (TJ Murphy) 50-1
2. GVA Ireland (FJ Flood) 14-1
3. Alexanderthegreat (R Walsh) 25-1
4. His Nibs (R Johnson) 25-1
24 ran. Dist: , 1

Creon and jockey Timmy Murphy sneaked up the inside to overcome GVA Ireland and win the Pertemps Final.

Murphy kept his cool to guide the Jonjo O'Neill-trained horse through from just behind the leaders on the run-in to come home for a 50-1 win with GVA Ireland finishing ahead of Ruby Walsh's Alexanderthegreat.

The much-fancied favourite Keepatem, ridden by David Casey, jumped poorly and although he was in with a chance going to the last, could not find any more at the end.

It gave O'Neill his second win in a row in the race after Inching Closer's success 12 months ago.

1640: Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (3mf)
1. Maximize (Mr D Edwards) 40-1
2. Merchants Friend (Mr P Cashman) 20-1
3. Ibis Rochelais (Mr T Greenall) 7-1f
4. Dominikus (Mr KJ Mercer) 20-1
22 ran. Dist: length, 9

Long-time leader Merchants Friend was caught on the line by Maximise in a thrilling climax to the first amateur riders race of the meeting.

It was a first win in 73 rides for Darren Edwards and gave trainer Martin Pipe and owner David Johnson their second success of the meeting.

Merchants Friend led for well over a circuit after first pulling away with Montifault but he struggled over the last fence and found the Cheltenham hill too tough to cope with as the fast-finishing Maximise just pipped him on the line.

1600: William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase (3mf)
1. Fork Lightning (R Thornton) 7-1
2. Shardam (C Llewellyn) 11-2
3. Royal Auclair (R Walsh) 7-1
11 ran . Dist: 2, 9

Jockey Robert Thornton gave Fork Lightning an excellent ride to give trainer Alan King his first Cheltenham winner.

The 7-1 shot travelled well throughout and jumped competently and claimed a two length victory over Shardam, ridden by Carl Llewellyn and Royal Auclair, ridden by Ruby Walsh.

French challenger Kelami took over four out but when Fork Lightning grabbed the lead on the final turn, the novice always looked more likely to upset the more seasoned campaigners.

1520: Smurfit Champion Hurdle (2mf)
1. Hardy Eustace (C O'Dwyer) 33-1
2. Rooster Booster (R Johnson) 11-8
3. Intersky Falcon (L Cooper) 8-1
14 ran. Dist: 5,4

Hardy Eustace and Conor O'Dwyer cause a big shock with a five length victory in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle.

Although Hardy Eustace went along well at the front, last year's winner Rooster Booster came from the back of the field to challenge with two fences to go and the Cheltenham crowd sensed another famous victory.

But although the pair jumped the last almost together, O'Dwyer's mount was stronger up the hill to edge out the famous grey.

Intersky Falcon, part-owned by Newcastle footballer Alan Shearer, ran on well for third.

1440: Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase (2m)
1 Well Chief (AP McCoy) 9-1
2. Kicking King (BJ Geraghty) 7-2
3. Le Duc (J Tizzard) 25-1
16 ran. Dist: length, 7

Well Chief gives Tony McCoy his first winner of the 2004 Festival with a narrow victory over Irish challenger Kicking King and Barry Geraghty.

There was drama at the start when the favourite Thisthatandtother, ridden by Ruby Walsh, fell at the second fence.

Despite building up a comfortable lead after the second last fence, McCoy and Well Chief jumped the last poorly to give his rival hope.

But the champion jockey managed to hold on up the famous Cheltenham hill to give trainer Martin Pipe a good opening day win.

1400: Letheby & Christopher Supreme Novices' Hurdle (2mf)
1. Brave Inca (BM Cash) 7-2f
2. War Of Attrition (C O'Dwyer) 33-1
3. Fleet Street (A Tinkler) 20-1
19 ran. Dist: nk, 7

Brave Inca came through in the final couple of strides to win a thrilling Supreme Novices Hurdle by a neck.

Barry Cash's mount, trained by Colm Murphy, was in contention all the way through and, coming to the final fence, had pulled away with the experienced Conor O'Dwyer on War of Attrition.

But in an exciting run-in, Cash managed to get the favourite ahead at the crucial time to claim a famous victory and get the Irish off to a great start at the Festival.

Fleet Street, ridden by Andrew Tinkler stayed on well for third.



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