Ruby Walsh celebrates 50th Cheltenham win as there's success for Vautour and Black Hercules

A poor day for the bookies as heavy favourites streak to victory on Day Three of the Cheltenham Festival

Irish eyes were smiling this St Patrick's Day as five of the first six races went to Irish horses and there was cause to celebrate for Ruby Walsh as he celebrated another career milestone.

Very little separated co-favourites Black Hercules and Bristol De Mai for the opening race of the day, the Grade 1 JLT Novices' Chase.

There was drama straight from the off as Andrew Lynch trained Zabana unseated Davy Russell after a sideways start.

There was no such problems for Black Hercules as he saw off a strong challenge from L'Ami Serge and a late run from Bristol De Mai to deliver Ruby Walsh his 50th Cheltenham victory.

Black Hercules ridden by Ruby Walsh on his way to winning the JLT Novices' Chase. Image: Mike Egerton / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Davy Russell then an almost instant change in fortunes as he guided Mall Dini to victory in the Pertemps Network Final.

Flintham, Rolling Maul and All Hell Let Loose all produced respectable runs, but each faded coming into the closing stages.

A late revival from Mall Dini saw him stay on to claim victory for trainer Patrick Kelly. 

Davy Russell followed up disappointment in the first race of the day with victory aboard Mall Dini. Image: Mike Egerton / PA Wire/Press Association Images

There may have been a 15-strong field for the Ryanair Chase this afternoon, but all eyes were firmly fixed on Willie Mullins-trained Vautour.

Having been withdrawn from the Gold Cup after some sloppy performances at home, he was supplemented into today's renewal alongside Road To Riches, Dynaste and Josses Hill.

Eyebrows were raised after the race as well, as an utterly dominant performance saw Vautour travel well throughout never looking to be straining himself and a quick turn of foot to power away from Road To Riches and win comfortably.

 

Vautour leaves behind Road To Riches in the Ryanair Chase. Image: Mike Egerton / PA Wire/Press Association Images

The price may have drifted in the lead up to today's feature race, the Ryanair World Hurdle, for Tom Scudamore and Thistlecrack, but there was nothing unsure about the eight-year-old's performance.

A comfortable race as a whole for the favourite as he went off at even money and he had little to contend with or than a challenge from Alpha Des Obeaux late on.

Nearly-man Tom Scudamore praised his horse's performance today and said he didn't expect the race to be "so easy". Image: Mike Egerton / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Elsewhere today there were wins for Empire Of Dirt in the Grade 3 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, 8-11 favourite  Limini took the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle and an impressive run from Cause Of Causes saw him claim victory in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase.