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Rachael Blackmore kicks off her Cheltenham Festival with a win aboard Slade Steel in the Supreme

Rachael Blackmore and Henry De Bromhead kicked off proceedings with a win as Slade Steel impressively won the Cheltenham Festival curtain raiser, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

The 7/2 chance travelled in the middle of the field and stalked the leaders before mounting a challenge on the turn for home.

Then he 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.

“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,” said De Bromhead.

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.”

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.

“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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