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Cheltenham Festival: Slade Steel holds off Mystical Power to win the Supreme Novices' Hurdle for Rachael Blackmore

Slade Steel claimed Supreme Novices' Hurdle glory with an inspired showing to fend off Mystical Power in the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival

Rachael Blackmore celebrates Supreme glory
Image: Rachael Blackmore celebrates Supreme glory

Slade Steel was an impressive winner of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle as the 2024 Cheltenham Festival got under way.

Trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by Rachael Blackmore, the 7-2 chance travelled in the middle of the field and stalked the leaders before mounting a challenge on the turn for home.

He then began to pick off the horses ahead of him and jumped into the lead before accelerating again up the hill when strongly challenged by Mystical Power, taking top honours by a length and a half.

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Trainer De Bromhead said: "I'm delighted with him, Rachael gave him a super ride and fair play to the Robcour team - they said Ballyburn has beaten us twice and we need to just avoid him, so that's what we did and it's worked out really well for us."

Blackmore - who in 2021 became the first woman to be crowned top rider at the Festival - said: "It's unbelievable.

"I obviously love this place and it's just amazing to be coming here, riding these brilliant horses. Henry trains them every year to come here and the way he does it is incredible."

Blackmore celebrates a famous victory
Image: Blackmore celebrates a famous victory

Mystical Power's trainer Wille Mullins said: "He looked like he had come to win the race, but the winner just outstayed him. I'd say the winner was probably idling when he hit the front.

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"It's exciting that he was able to run so well on that ground, he will be much better on a better surface, we think. He's come a hell of a long way since he made his debut in Ballinrobe."

Mullins was also responsible for unplaced 11-4 favourite Tullyhill and added: "Tullyhill was disappointing.

"Paul (Townend) wasn't happy with him from halfway, even going down to the start he wasn't the usual Tullyhill.

"Asian Master ran a great race and he gave young Thomas Costello a great spin and he gave him every chance to win, I was very happy with him and Supersundae also ran well.

"You'd obviously like to get number one on the board sooner rather than later, but it's great for Henry and great for Robcour."

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