The Cheltenham Festival started with a shock result, 25-1 outsider Labaik storming to victory in the Novices’ Hurdle, beating highly-fancied rivals Melon and Ballyandy.
Ridden by Jack Kennedy, who unbelievably is still just 17 years old, the Gordon Elliot trained horse had started the morning as a 50-1 shot in the first race of today, a result of refusing to start in five of the eight races he has entered since the beginning of 2016.
However, despite his problems at the start of races, Labraik had absolutely no problem finishing this one, blitzing all competition on the home straight to storm to a opening day upset.
Cilaos Emery led out the race and headed the field for much of proceedings and while joint-favourite Ballyandy made an early mistake, stumbling a little and slipping down the field, fellow contender Melon sat well placed around second or third.
Cilaos Emery was still leading with three to jump and with Melon looking in a good position for the final stretch few would have betted against Ruby Walsh riding home to an expected victory.
However that was not how things turned out, Labaik coming from way back in the field and outpacing everyone, Walsh included, to seal a thrilling opening-race win.
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