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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Nicholls fires winning BulletsHeadlines
Dodging Bullets and Ruby Walsh take the last in front

Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh completed a double at Cheltenham when 5-4 favourite Dodging Bullets made virtually every yard in the Grade Two Opus Energy Novices' Hurdle.

Walsh was positive from the off aboard the Frankie Dettori-bred winner, but he looked to have a battle on his hands as there were five in with a chance at the last.

However, a sound leap from Dodging Bullets saw him land in front and he stayed on up the hill, finding the necessary extra to repel River Maigue by a length and a half. Court Minstrel was the same distance back in third.

Nicholls said: "He wants a fast-run race, he stays and this will have done him the world of good. He showed last year in the Triumph Hurdle that he's a classy horse, but he was just struggling with his breathing.

"We might go for the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day and then come back for the Supreme here - it's a long way off to start planning yet."

Earlier, Shooters Wood kept on gamely for Nicholls and Walsh to win the paddypower.com Handicap Chase.

Walsh was always in the front rank on the eight-year-old (7-1) as Arctic Ben tried to make all, and he looked well in control as they rounded the turn at the top of the straight. French raider Wetak tried to go with him, but he pecked on landing at the second-last and it looked as though the battle was over.

Tom Scudamore switched Wetak to the inside and he ran on again, but Shooters Wood stayed on grimly to prevail by a length and a half. Silver Roque claimed third, while 9-2 joint-favourites Astracad and Kid Cassidy failed to make an impact.

Nicholls said: "This lad's run a blinder. Ruby said he probably should have won on him at Taunton the last day. It was the first time he'd sat on him and he said he should have saved a bit. Today I knew Ruby would ride him a bit differently and save a little bit for the hill and it was perfect.

"I think left-handed tracks suit him better. He looks an out-and-out two-miler and I'm not sure what we will do with him now."

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