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Horse racing punters had their Festival preparations side-tracked by the shock news that Top Notch had been ruled out of the Ryanair Chase on Thursday.

Star trainer Nicky Henderson spoke to the media a week before the off to tell those with their ear to the ground that the progressive seven-year-old wouldn’t be at Prestbury Park to contest the 2m 5f grade one National Hunt Chase as expected.

Top Notch – boasting career stats of 10 wins and seven places from 20 outings – was last seen finishing fourth in a warm-up race at Ascot in February over the same trip, ending behind Waiting Patiently. A couple of early errors seemed to put a line through his chances but traders hadn’t overreacted to the bare result, making the bay gelding a 7/1 shot, included in the top-five of the betting.

Henderson and the team were in a less forgiving mood, however, pulling him from this year’s festival as a precaution, unimpressed by that Ascot effort. It was also reported that the horse hadn’t been his self in training and handlers were eager to get to the bottom of the problem away from the crowds and media spotlight.

That blows a hole in the ante-post Cheltenham tips for the Ryanair, and Betfair now have Un De Sceaux as a convincing 13/8 favourite ahead of Waiting Patiently at 3/1. The former, trained by Willie Mullins, has won 15 of his 20 competitive outings, having finished outside of the top-three only twice in his career.

The 10-year-old was last seen boosting his stock when scooping the Clarence House Chase at Ascot in January. Going off as a convincing 4/9 favourite, Paul Townend’s mount more than lived up to the hype when trotting home a full seven lengths ahead of nearest finisher Speredek under Sean Bowen.

Un De Sceaux has run at Prestbury Park four times already during his five-year career, winning three and finishing second in the spare. Victory in the Arkle kicked things off back in 2015 when delighting favourite-backers at short odds. He was then runner-up behind Sprinter Sacre in the Champion Chase two years ago, again a hot-fav, before returning to the winner’s enclosure for the Clarence House Chase last year and Ryanair 12 months ago.

Followers who enjoy keeping Un De Sceaux close know they don’t often get a chance to back their representative at decent numbers and a look through the Cheltenham 2018 betting odds suggest this year will be no different, due to the weakened field.

Article Posted on Thursday 8th March 2018 @ 16.50

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Starting Gate

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ayr EBF Stallions Menabrea Maiden Stakes (Plus 10) 6f - £4787 - Good to Firm

1 Clay Regazzoni14/1

2 Danny Ocean9/2

3 Fred2/1

4 Lord Of The Lodge11/2

5 Mellad11/4

6 Puerto Sol66/1

7 Streaker15/2

8 Capelli Rossi66/1

9 Star's Daughter200/1

wexford Welcome To Wexford Racecourse Maiden Hurdle2m 4f - £6775 - Good

1 Big Tree2/1

2 Black Market7/2

3 Clouncerna33/1

4 Dix De Der66/1

5 Magistralis25/1

6 Pat Coyne20/1

7 Shawshank6/1

8 Storm Flight13/2

9 Tibetan Gold40/1

10 Yendo7/1

11 Araukan11/1

12 Try Dollys Sister16/1

yarmouth Haven Hopton Park Handicap (Str)1m - £3105 - Good to Firm (Good in places)

1 Mezmaar14/1

2 Spanish Mane9/1

3 Enzo8/1

4 Shamlan40/1

5 Molten Lava5/1

6 Brigand7/2

7 King Oswald11/2

8 Boxatricks7/1

9 Voice of A Leader20/1

10 Sir Jamie16/1

11 Harvest Ranger20/1

12 Percy Toplis40/1

13 Dukes Meadow40/1

14 Angelical Eve40/1

15 Cloud Nine40/1

16 Khaan40/1

warwick Join Racing TV Now William Eborall Maiden Hurdle2m 3f - £3249 - Good

1 Dontcounturchikens8/1

2 Espressino100/1

3 Montana Grey18/1

4 Spicy Fruity12/1

5 Story Of Friends5/4

6 Gotaloton66/1

7 Overflow5/1

8 Yccs Portocervo9/4

ayr Heverlee Handicap 6f - £3105 - Good to Firm

1 Ninjago8/1

2 Red Cymbal20/1

3 Jessie Allan20/1

4 Havana Go12/1

5 Raffle King20/1

6 Mr Shelby11/2

7 Cupid's Arrow14/1

8 The Bull15/2

9 Tadaany16/1

10 Tai Sing Yeh11/2

11 Loulin9/1

12 Star Cracker16/1

13 Brendan7/1

14 Racquet14/1

15 Joey Boy33/1

16 Thorntoun Lady40/1

17 Firsteen25/1

wexford Rosslare Mares Handicap Hurdle (80-109)2m 4f - £7391 - Good

1 Dawn Hoofer15/2

2 Trans Wood5/1

3 Aunty Audrey16/1

4 Euro So Brave4/1

5 Deilginis7/4

6 Vinabell14/1

7 Simple Steps7/1

8 Mizz Monroe11/1

9 Flying Vacation66/1

yarmouth British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes (Plus 10) 6f 3y - £9704 - Good to Firm (Good in places)

1 Arthur's Court22/1

2 Dark Side Division66/1

3 Deverell11/2

4 Historic10/1

5 Maxi Boy7/2

6 Path Of Thunder11/10

7 Rusper's Lad33/1

8 St Ives9/1

warwick Qatar Airways Coronation Handicap Hurdle2m - £4549 - Good

1 Chief Brody10/1

2 Knight Destroyer8/1

3 Atlantic Storm13/2

4 Kereman8/11

5 Billy My Boy11/1

6 Mach One14/1

7 Carnage22/1

8 Bulletproof25/1

Latest Results

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HexhamChallenge Northumberland Events Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle

14It's All About Me2/1
21Donnas Dream4/1
37Andhaar10/1
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Pl£2.30, £1.02
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CSF£8.21
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Tote Win£1.90
Pl£1.40, £1.20
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CSF£4.96
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13For Good Measure4/1
21Three Ways14/1
34Francky Du Berlais10/3
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Winning JockeyR Johnson
Runners5 ran
Distances3 1/2 lengths, Neck
Tote Win£3.10
Pl£1.50, £4.80, £1.80
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CSF£17.15
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Winning JockeyO J Orr
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CSF£15.41
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39Kitty Fisher6/1
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CSF£109.28
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Pl£2.00, £2.30, £1.40
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Trifecta£177.10
CSF£55.21
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