Aubusson toughs out Cheltenham opener

Aubusson was a shock winner of the opener on Cheltenham's New Year's Day card under Lizzie Kelly.

The five-year-old had won at 33/1 on his debut for Nick Williams at Chepstow and he proved that victory to be no fluke as he followed up here under the 7lb amateur at odds of 9/1.

In a race staged at a steady pace given the inclement weather conditions, Racing Pulse and Regal Diamond cut out the early work but Kelly allowed her mount to take closer order as they jumped the seventh flight and having taken the lead with three to jump, the ex-French inmate galloped resolutely to the line to take victory.

A delighted rider said: "We knew he'd stay. It's probably the only time I'll ever ride a winner at Cheltenham!"

Well backed favourite, Ballyalton was held up in the early stages but was unable to pick up the leaders at the finish having appeared to travel comfortably throughout the contest.