Mullins and Walsh regain winning feeling with sensational Cheltenham four-timer
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh regained that winning feeling with a sensational four-timer on a day to remember at the Cheltenham Festival.
Cheltenham's leading jockey Walsh and noted trainer Mullins had failed to win during the first two days at Prestbury Park, including a shock for 2-9 favourite Douvan in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, but normal service was resumed with four winners on Thursday.
After starting the day with a win atop Yorkhill in the JLT Novice Chase, Walsh earned Mullins a 50th Cheltenham victory with a stunning run from Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair Chase.
A year ago Un De Sceaux was beaten by the legendary Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother Champion Hurdle, but on this occasion he was unstoppable, with Walsh willing to let him lead from the front and at one stage the gap to the field was 12 lengths.
In the end the winning margin was by a length as Sub Lieutenant put up a fight, but there was never any chance Walsh would be denied as Mullins chalked up a half-century of winners at the festival.
"It's been a tough year for Willie, but he's taken it great," Walsh told ITV Sport. "I've worked for him since I was 17 so could eulogise about him all day."
But the celebrations were not finished as Walsh brilliantly led 10-1 shot Nichols Canyon to victory in the Stayers' Hurdle as clear favourite Unowhatimeanharry disappointed.
Unowhatimeanharry (5-6) had won eight of eight races this season and was nicely poised having caught plucky outsider Lil Rockerfeller.
However, he was found lacking as Noel Fehily - the winning rider in the Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase this week - missed out and there was disappointment for Lil Rockerfeller as Nichols Canyon came steaming through on the inside.
And Walsh celebrated for a fourth time in the Mares' Novices' Hurdle, coming through on favourite Let's Dance as the pack hit the last before sprinting clear for the line.
For the second straight year Pat Kelly and Davy Russell celebrated success in the Pertemps Final. Russell was atop Mall Dini 12 months ago and came from the back of the field on Presenting Percy to surge three lengths clear of Barney Dwan, while Road To Respect clinched the Brown Advisory Plate for a sixth Irish win of the day.