JOCKEY Ruby Walsh brushed off his disappointment in the Champion Chase, as well as two earlier falls, to achieve a record-breaking 26th Cheltenham Festival winner.
Walsh finally prevailed on Sanctuaire in the Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle to break Pat Taaffe’s all-time record and, with only the second win by a favourite in 12 races, hand punters some relief.
By then Walsh had already endured a testing day. He and Quel Esprit fell early in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle and then late in the RSA Chase aboard Citizen Vic, a crash the horse did not survive.
Walsh and odds-on favourite Master Minded then endured Champion Chase disappointment before earning redemption and Festival immortality on the aptly named Sanctuaire. Victory was a first winner of the week for trainer Paul Nicholls, who has high hopes for Big Buck’s in today’s World Hurdle and Kauto Star in tomorrow’s Gold Cup.
On a landmark day for the Walsh family, Ruby’s sister Katie won the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup – an amateur riders’ novices’ contest – on Poker De Sivola.
She said: “I don’t want to sound soft or anything, but this is the best day of my life.”