Racing: Cullen and Nolan on hallowed turf

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The Independent Online

There were new names in the winners' enclosure at Cheltenham yesterday and a suggestion that a new inscription could be made on the Champion Hurdle trophy next spring, writes Richard Edmondson.

Accordion Etoile captured the notable Festival weather vane of the Greatwood Hurdle for Ireland and his trainer, Paul Nolan, and jockey, John Cullen, were recording their first successes at Prestbury Park.

It was only a handicap and Accordion Etoile competed with a relatively light weight on his back, but such was the comprehensiveness of victory and the pedigree of the race that the gelding plummeted to as low as 10-1 for hurdling's championship.

"In all realism he had to win this race off 10st 6lb to be even considered for the Champion Hurdle," Nolan said. "But I think he's an improving horse and, if the ground is right, he will be a leading contender here in March." Accordion Etoile, like other successful hurdlers at this meeting, went round the outside on a band of firmer ground to deliver his challenge. Rooster Booster finished fourth.