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Cheltenham Festival – Day one in pictures

Rachael Blackmore’s historic Champion Hurdle victory on Honeysuckle was missing only roars of encouragement and cheers of celebration as the 2021 Cheltenham Festival had to get by without crowds, under ongoing coronavirus restrictions. But as equine and human endeavour nonetheless lit up Prestbury Park, here the PA news agency traces a memorable day one of four in pictures:

Few were in attendance, but millions nonetheless shared the jubilation remotely for Unibet Champion Hurdle heroines Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle
Few were in attendance, but millions nonetheless shared the jubilation remotely for Unibet Champion Hurdle heroines Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle (Michael Steele/PA)

Cheltenham Festival 2021 – Day One – Cheltenham Racecourse
Winners – jockey Rachael Blackmore and trainer Henry de Bromhead have a Champion Hurdle on their CVs, thanks to Honeysuckle (David Davies/Jockey Club)

It was a glory day too for Shishkin and Nico de Boinville as Nicky Henderson's brilliant young chaser stayed unbeaten over fences with a dominant performance in the Arkle
It was a glory day too for Shishkin and Nico de Boinville as Nicky Henderson’s brilliant young chaser stayed unbeaten over fences with a dominant performance in the Arkle (David Davies/Jockey Club)

The turnstiles were motionless as a Cheltenham Festival like no other got under way on Tuesday
The turnstiles were motionless as a Cheltenham Festival like no other got under way on Tuesday (Tim Goode/PA)

Empty bookmaker stalls told their own tale too
Empty bookmaker stalls told their own tale too (Tim Goode/PA)

Cheltenham's regional director Ian Renton was a lone figure, watching the action from the grandstand
Cheltenham’s regional director Ian Renton was a lone figure, watching the action from the grandstand (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Appreciate It and Paul Townend were devoid of company as well as they surged clear to win the opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle very impressively
Appreciate It and Paul Townend were devoid of company as well as they surged clear to win the opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle very impressively (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Black Tears' Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle win was a Festival first for Denise Foster - who has taken over the running of Gordon Elliott's yard while he serves his well-documented ban. The narrow success was also the first leg of jockey Jack Kennedy's double and one of five Irish successes
Black Tears’ Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle win was a Festival first for Denise Foster – who has taken over the running of Gordon Elliott’s yard while he serves his well-documented ban. The narrow success was also the first leg of jockey Jack Kennedy’s double, and one of five Irish successes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Favourites largely fared well on the opening day, but Sean Flanagan and Jeff Kidder's shock 80-1 victory in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle was a late leveller for the bookies
Favourites largely fared well on the opening day, but Sean Flanagan and Jeff Kidder’s shock 80-1 victory in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle was a late leveller for the bookies (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Frodon and Frost are perfect match at Kempton

Frodon and Bryony Frost were the toasts of Kempton on Boxing Day as they sprang a 20-1 shock in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase. They led throughout and jumped in trademark perfect sync as they delivered trainer Paul Nicholls’ 12th win in the great race. Here, PA Racing records the tale of the unexpected in pictures:

Frost was under trainer's orders to get out in front and keep galloping from start to finish in a bid to outrun a stellar field - and Frodon was her willing partner
Frost was under trainer’s orders to get out in front and keep galloping from start to finish in a bid to outrun a stellar field – and Frodon was her willing partner (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Silver Streak provided an apt appetiser with his own surprise victory in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle - at the expense of 1-5 favourite Epatante
Silver Streak provided an apt appetiser with his own surprise victory in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle – at the expense of 1-5 favourite Epatante (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

A Boxing Day packed with shock results began at Wetherby. Ballycallan Fame and Charlie Hammond got the Rowland Meyrick card off to a highly unlikely start with their 125-1 win in the opening mares' novice hurdle - by 23 lengths, after leading throughout
A Boxing Day packed with shock results began at Wetherby. Ballycallan Fame and Charlie Hammond got the Rowland Meyrick card off to a highly unlikely start with their 125-1 win in the opening mares’ novice hurdle – by 23 lengths, after leading throughout (Tim Goode/PA)

Canelo and Tom Bellamy (left) slug it out to get the better of Snow Leopardess in the William Hill Rowland Meyrick
Canelo and Tom Bellamy (left) slug it out to get the better of Snow Leopardess in the William Hill Rowland Meyrick (Tim Goode/PA)

Meanwhile, back in Surrey ... 'Do these things work?' Trainer Nicky Henderson may be far from the only one struggling to believe his eyes
Meanwhile, back in Surrey … ‘Do these things work?’ Trainer Nicky Henderson may be far from the only one struggling to believe his eyes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Three is a crowd - well, not quite, as Tier 4 restrictions applied for Kempton's big day
Three is a crowd – well, not quite, as Tier 4 restrictions applied for Kempton’s big day (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Job done: Nicholls catches a quiet moment with his big-race hero
Job done: Nicholls catches a quiet moment with his big-race hero (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Even Frodon's best mate appears taken aback at his crowning moment
Even Frodon’s best mate appears taken aback at his crowning moment (Alan Crowhurst/PA)