Jockey Ruby Walsh toasted Ireland’s dominance on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival after he and trainer Willie Mullins teamed up to land a spectacular four-timer.
Walsh and Mullins bounced back in emphatic style, following a barren start to the week that included Douvan’s shock defeat in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, as Irish horses won six of Thursday’s seven races.
The duo scooped the Stayers’ Hurdle with Nichols Canyon, the Ryanair Chase with Un De Sceaux, saw Yorkhill win the JLT Novices’ Chase and capped the day when Let’s Dance prevailed in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
“What a day,” said Walsh. “The horses ran well the first two days, they just weren’t winning. In previous years we were front-loaded and this year we were back-loaded; we knew we had great chances today and we think we have a couple tomorrow. It’s been a super day for the Irish.”
How Walsh and Mullins landed four wins
Walsh elicited a timely kick from Nichols Canyon in the Stayers’ Hurdle to send the 10/1 chance clear of odds-on favourite Unowhatimeanharry, who finished third behind 33/1 shot Lil Rockerfeller.
Earlier, Un De Sceaux needed little encouragement to hit the front in the Ryanair Chase, with Walsh admitting he was “a passenger” as the 7/4 favourite stormed to an impressive victory.
The triumph was all the sweeter for Mullins, who trained 60 of Michael O’Leary’s horses until a dispute over fees saw the Ryanair chief end their arrangement in September.
Walsh and Mullins broke their Festival ducks in the opener as 6/4 favourite Yorkhill won by a length from Top Notch.
They landed their fourth success of a memorable day in the penultimate race when Let’s Dance justified 11/8 favouritism to win by two and three-quarter lengths from Barra.