Jockey Lizzie Kelly was the star of Cheltenham’s New Year’s Day fixture, riding a double for her stepfather Nick Williams, headlined by the victory of Agrapart in the G2 Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle.
Cheltenham Racecourse’s next fixture is Festival Trials Day on Saturday, January 28.
The going at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day changed to Good to Soft, Good in places before racing after four millimetres of rain and the runners in the first race finished strung out apart from the first four past the post.
They were led home by five-year-old Coo Star Sivola, trained by Nick Williams and ridden by his step-daughter Lizzie Kelly, who stayed on strongly up the hill to win, for the first time, by four and half lengths from the front-running Report To Base (Evan Williams/Paul Moloney, 10/1).
The 9/2 chance, who ran well when third in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at The Festival in March, raced prominently among the 10 runners (Dashing Oscar was a non-runner) and went second four out.
Coo Star Sivola challenged the leader between the last two hurdles and was in the lead by the final flight, staying on strongly up the hill. The 4/1 favourite Poetic Rhythm finished a further two and a quarter lengths back in third.
Kelly, who had not partnered a winner since November, was relieved to be back in the winner’s enclosure.
She said: “I am really happy, that is a brilliant start to what should be a good day. I have four rides today.”
“He is lovely and I could not have asked for a nicer ride. He had good form and was my second winner at Cheltenham today.”
“It is hard when you are not riding winners – you become a bit desperate. You have to tell yourself, just chill and keep calm.”
“He has done everything I have asked him to do. He stays well, which is his forte, and the soft ground suited him. He is a very good horse and I think he will have more big days hopefully.”
Altior has been well backed this week (11/10 from 6/4) with bet365 for the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
The talented Capitaine will run a big race in the 32 Red Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday.
Yours In Sport!