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Punjabi wins Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham

  • Story Highlights
  • Punjabi wins thrilling Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival in blanket finish
  • Barry Geraghty holds off Celestial Halo and stablemate and favorite Binocular
  • Binocular ridden by 13-time champion Tony McCoy who won preceding race
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(CNN) -- Punjabi held off Celestial Halo and 6-4 favorite Binocular in a blanket finish to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

Barry Geraghty rides Punjabi to victory in Cheltenham's Champion Hurdle with stablemate Binocular third.

Barry Geraghty rides Punjabi to victory in Cheltenham's Champion Hurdle with stablemate Binocular third.

Punjabi, ridden by Barry Geraghty and trained by Nicky Henderson, finished third in the world's leading hurdles race last year, but went off as a 22-1 shot with much of the money for stablemate Binocular, ridden by champion jockey Tony McCoy.

Celestial Halo, a 17-2 chance with Ruby Walsh on board, had led over the final fence but was caught on the long run-in at Cheltenham by Punjabi with McCoy trying desperately to get on terms on the favorite.

Geraghty was completing a high-priced double on the day with his first Champion Hurdle victory.

McCoy, the darling of the big Irish contingent at jump racing's premier festival, had also been chasing a double after winning the previous race on Wichita Lineman in the William Hill Trophy.

The 13-time champion dragged home a seemingly lost cause, but could not repeat the trick from a similar position with Binocular.

Victory for Geraghty was one of the highlights of his career. "Happy days. A great performance," he told Channel Four.

"I thought I had Ruby well covered turning in. He ran on really well, he was all out, it was a great performance.

"I tipped a Nicky Henderson one-two. There was one in between but it's brilliant."

The festival finishes on Friday with the highlight, the annual Gold Cup for champion steeplechasers with Denman defending the title.

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