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Cheltenham Day 1 Review: Constitution Hill and Honeysuckle shine
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Tom McGarry
Racing Post
Constitution Hill made it six wins in as many races with a dominant performance in the Champion Hurdle
Constitution Hill made it six wins in as many races with a dominant performance in the Champion Hurdle

The opening day of this year's Cheltenham Festival certainly did not disappoint, with memorable victories for two Prestbury Park greats in Constitution Hill and Honeysuckle.

No stopping Constitution Hill

The feature race of the day was the 15:30 Champion Hurdle and Nicky Henderson's Constitution Hill went into the Grade 1 contest as the overwhelming 4/11 favourite to make it six wins from six career starts.

Ridden by Nico de Boinville, it was another classy showing from the unstoppable six-year-old, as he tracked the front-running I Like To Move It for the early part of the race before powering home to win by his usual wide margin - this time nine lengths.

Constitution Hill's victory further underlined his credentials as one of the hurdling greats, while also extending trainer Henderson's great affinity with the Champion Hurdle, as this was the Seven Barrows handler's record-extending ninth success in the race.

Honeysuckle signs off with victory

Honeysuckle gave spectactors what they craved as she signed off her career with a thrilling win
Honeysuckle gave spectactors what they craved as she signed off her career with a thrilling win

Honeysuckle has been one of the stars of Cheltenham over recent times and she was looking to secure her fourth Grade 1 victory in as many years at the Festival in the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle, in which she went off as the 9/4 joint favourite.

Henry de Bromhead's star runner claimed her first Cheltenham victory in this race in 2020 before adding back-to-back Champion Hurdle successes, with all of those wins coming with Rachael Blackmore in the saddle.

The duo once again teamed up for Tuesday's race, with it having already been announced that Honeysuckle would then be retired to stud, and they delivered the fairy-tale finish many were looking for to claim victory ahead of 11/1 shot Love Envoi.

Tuesday's other Grade 1 winner was El Fabiolo, who got trainer Willie Mullins up and running for the Festival by seeing off old rival Jonbon in the Arkle Challenge Trophy.

New Grand National favourite

There is a new favourite for next month's Grand National, with Lucinda Russell's Corach Rambler now 8/1 with LiveScore Bet to win the Aintree showpiece after claiming victory in the Ultima Handicap Chase for the second year in a row.

Sent off the 6/1 joint favourite, Corach Rambler has become the first horse to claim back-to-back victories in the race since Un Temps Pour Tout added the second of his successes in 2017.

Marine reigns Supreme

In the opening race of the Festival, 9/2 shot Marine Nationale saw off the challenge of 9/4 favourite Facile Vega to win a thrilling renewal of the Supreme Novices Hurdle, while also extending his unbeaten record to five.

Michael O'Sullivan was in the saddle for that victory and he added another win later in the day, steering 18/1 shot Jazzy Matty to success in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle for trainer Gordon Elliott.

The final race of the day was won by 10/11 favourite Gaillard Du Mesnil, who provided Mullins with his second victory of the Festival and 90th overall.

 Cheltenham Festival 2023 Day 1 results: 
- 13:30 Supreme Novices' Hurdle won by Marine National (9/2) 
- 14:10 Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase won by El Fabiolo (11/10f) 
- 14:50 Ultima Handicap Chase won by Corach Rambler (6/1jf) 
- 15:30 Champion Hurdle won by Constitution Hill (4/11f) 
- 16:10 Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle won by Honeysuckle (9/4jf) 
- 16:50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle won by Jazzy Matty (18/1)
- 17:30 National Hunt Chase won by Gaillard Du Mesnil (10/11f)
- Cheltenham Festival 2023 Day 2 Tips

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