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Ballyburn opens day two of the Cheltenham Festival with an impressive victory in the Gallagher Novices' Hurdle

Ballyburn made impressively light work of the Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival.

The 1/2 favourite was one of five runners for the all-conquering Willie Mullins and travelled strongly behind the leaders under Paul Townend.

When the field rounded the final bend there was no question whatsoever as to the outcome, with the Ronnie Bartlett-owned six-year-old strolling away from stablemate Jimmy Du Seuil to win by a yawning 13 lengths.

Another Closutton runner, Ile Atlantique, was a further three and a half lengths back in third. Just for good measure Mullins was also responsible for Mercurey (fourth) and Predators Gold (fifth).

“It’s the first time he’s wowed me, I thought ‘wow, what a performance’ and to me that was a Champion Hurdle performance,” said Mullins.

“It was really really spectacular. With his size, scope and pedigree our owners might decide to go chasing with him next year, I don’t know. But with that performance he can go anywhere.

“Our team are in flying form, but we are just so sorry for Nicky Henderson that he has had to pull his good horses out. It could be us, so our sympathies go to him.”

Bartlett said: “He jumped well, we didn’t know how he was going to handle the ground, but that was exciting.

“Let’s enjoy the day and the future is in front of him, so we’ll just keep our fingers crossed.

“He had lots of different options and in typical Willie style he didn’t want to tell us too much, but listen it all came right in the end.”

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