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Kicking off the Cheltenham Festival in style for Kayf Tara

Saturday double and Sunday treble set up exciting week ahead

Victories for Rathlin and No Planning on Saturday, followed by an Anglo-Irish treble on Sunday courtesy of Bucking The Trend, Crest and Mystical Knight provided yet another reminder of the excellent season in progress for Britain’s multiple champion National Hunt sire Kayf Tara.

The veteran Rathlin, now 11, proved that age is no barrier to success when pulling off a four-length victory over Monbeg River in the two-mile handicap chase at Ayr for his ninth career win, including the G2 Nas Na Riogh Novice Chase in Ireland. Nine-year-old No Planning went one better when recording his tenth victory, also over fences at Ayr.

Twenty-four hours later, the Tim Vaughan-trained Bucking The Trend strolled home the 20-length winner of Market Rasen’s three-mile handicap chase for his fourth success, while in Ireland, Gigginstown House Stud’s Crest scored on debut for Gordon Elliott at Navan, which was also the scene of victory for JP McManus’s Mystical Knight, who is now the winner of two point-to-points, a bumper and a novice hurdle.

Kayf Tara’s winning strike-rate for the season stands at 31%, with 87 individual winners of 132 races earning £1,514,647. He holds a strong hand of contenders for this week’s Cheltenham Festival, where his runners include Ryanair World Hurdle favourite Thistlecrack, Identity Thief in the Stan James Champion Hurdle and Special Tiara in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.