LISGOOLD'S Paul Townend got punters off to a flyer as Appreciate It romped to victory in the Supreme Novice Hurdle which got the Cheltenham Festival underway on Tuesday afternoon.
Townend was left frustrated after that with Concertista narrowly denied by Black Tears in the Mares Hurdle, while Saint Sam also finished in the runners-up slot in the Juvenile Hurdle.
Elsewhere on the card Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore combined for an emphatic victory in the Champion Hurdle which was the feature race on day one.
Blackmore was always in control as this wonder mare completed her 10th consecutive victory.
Honeysuckle was always well placed behind the leaders and sprinted away from her rivals off the home turn for a popular victory at odds of 11-10.
“He was very impressive there. Conditions came in his favour and it was a huge performance.
"He’s a simple horse to ride and it’s ideal to have a horse like that to ride in the first race of the week," Townend said.
“We knew from the bumper here last year that he was very good. He’d been beating the Irish novices at home, so I was quietly confident.
"We know he stays and I suppose the way he jumps makes him look like a quicker horse than he is.”
Cork man Joe Donnelly’s colours were carried to victory by Shiskin (above) in the Arkle Novice Chase.
This horse had already won at last year’s festival and was a runaway 12-length winner here.
It is a massive week for the former bookmaker as Al Boum Photo tries to emulate Arkle and Best Mate with a third consecutive victory in the Gold Cup on Friday.