Espoir D'Allen lands Champion Hurdle
Trainer Gavin Cromwell clinched his first Cheltenham Festival triumph as Espoir D'Allen won the Champion Hurdle.
All the talk before the race was about whether Buveur D'Air could make it three Champion Hurdles in a row, but the defending champion fell halfway round the course, taking out Sharjah in the process.
That changed the whole complexion of the contest and after quietly working his way through the field under the guidance of jockey Mark Walsh, the five-year-old Espoir D'Allen went clear down the final straight to win comfortably.
Speaking to BBC 5 Live after the race, Cromwell said: "I am shellshocked. It absolutely skated up, I am so lost for words. It's just unbelievable."
Winning jockey Walsh also expressed his delight at the victory, saying: "I can't believe it. It was brilliant from a 5-year-old to do that, wow. I couldn't have won it any better.
"Unfortunately Barry [Geraghty] fell in front of me on Buveur D'Air but my horse took me to the front so easily. I was glad to see the rain come in this morning. I'm delighted."
Melon ended up taking second with the massive outsider Silver Streak in third.
James Mason grew up in Northumberland so is entrenched in both the football and golf scenes. A low handicap golfer, he also follows Newcastle United and predicts big things under Rafa Benitez.