Kelly sees New Year in with winner

Lizzie Kelly landed the first jumps race of the year for the second time in four years as Coo Star Sivola scored at Cheltenham.

Following up the success of Aubusson in the same race in 2014, the Nick Williams-trained winner tracked leader Report To Base into the home straight before being sent on into a clear advantage over the last flight.

As the strong-travelling Pingshou's stamina gave out close home, it was Poetic Rhythm who tried to throw down a challenge along with the rallying Report To Base.

But the 9/2 chance kept on strongly to score by four and half a lengths, delighting the winning rider, who has endured something of a lean spell so far this season.

"When you're not riding winners, it can be hard to keep yourself from panicking and trying too hard, but you have to chill and know that they will come," she said. "I think he's a nice horse and he's done it well out there, but it's proper soft ground and that helped him – you really had to stay today, and that's his forte.

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"I'm covered in mud now, but that's the way I like it – it's proper jumping weather!

"Hopefully this is the start of a good day, as I have four good rides, and a really good year too."

Williams added: "He was due for a win. He is a good horse and we know he is a good horse as he has lots of places.

"We needed that as we've had lots of near-misses.

"Auteuil was bottomless last time and he didn't run well there but he ran well in the Persian War so the form was there.

"Where we go from here, I'm not sure. He would need to be 150-rated for the Neptune but he could go for the conditional jockeys' race at the Festival (Martin Pipe)."

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