Grand National hopefuls Gaillard Du Mesnil and Corach Rambler both claimed victories on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival.

The curtain raiser of the festival saw an action-packed day of racing with both Aintree entries winning in good style.

Corach Rambler retained his Ultima Handicap Chase crown for trainer Lucinda Russell who wins the race back-to-back.

Russell confirmed Corach Rambler will now head to Aintree.

“It’s a special pleasure to watch the horse enjoying himself,” said Russell speaking after the race to BBC Radio 5 live sports extra.

“The track is so stiff, but he picked up speed round the corner. It was phenomenal.

“When he hits the front, he pulls himself up a bit – it’s just magic that you can have a runner here, let alone a winner.

“He will now go to Aintree for the National. He deserves to have a crack and that’s the next step.”

Corach Rambler was not the only Grand National hopeful to win on day one of the festival as Gaillard Du Mesnil survived a scare to storm to victory in The National Hunt Chase.

The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old has placed in Grade One company at the last two Festivals.

Despite favouritism it looked as if the grey had his work cut out to catch the forward-going Mahler Mission.

The Irish trained grey was awarded a chance to get back after Mahler Mission came down at the second last.

“I think we were a bit fortunate to be honest with John McConnell’s horse falling, but that’s racing,” said Mullins in the Daily Mail.

Mullins, however, remains coy about Gaillard Du Mesnil’s chances of an appearance on Merseyside.

“I don’t know about Aintree, I don’t know if it will come too soon for him so we’ll see,” the Irish trainer admitted.

Another Grand National hopeful Delta Work aims to win the Cross Country Chase for second time at Cheltenham.

Delta Work ran down stablemate and two time Grand National winner Tiger Roll in last years Cross Country Chase.

The Gordon Elliott trained chaser is also now set for a second crack at the Grand National himself.

Elliott will be hoping Delta Work can provide him with a fourth National success at this years meeting.

(Featured image by Alamy Images under agreed licence)