Punjabi wins Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham

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The Independent Online

Punjabi held off stablemate and hot favorite Binocular to win the Champion Hurdle on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Ridden by Barry Geraghty and trained by Nicky Henderson, the 22-1 shot hit the front at the last hurdle and then had to withstand the challenge of the fast finishing Tony McCoy on 6-4 favorite Binocular.

A neck behind the winner, Celestial Halo with Ruby Walsh aboard captured second in a photo finish from Binocular in the 2.1-mile (3.4-kilometer) race.

The bigger than usual field of 23 included the winners of the previous five Champion Hurdles - Hardy Eustace (2004-05), Brave Ince (2006), Sublimity (2007) and Katchit (2008).