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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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market rasen MansionBet Novices' Hurdle2m 2f 140y - £4549 - Good to Soft

1 Deyrann de Carjac10/11

2 Event Of Sivola10/1

3 Garrettstown11/8

4 Gold Fields22/1

5 Pepperdew100/1

6 Realms Of Fire66/1

7 Sharp Reply100/1

8 Sir Runs A Lot100/1

ludlow Plymouth Carvery Novices' Hurdle1m 7f 169y - £4874 - Good (Good to Firm in places)

1 Takbeer33/1

2 Back On The Lash11/2

3 Ballon Onabudget14/1

4 Ballyellis66/1

5 Camlad Kingfisher150/1

6 Don Juan Du Gouet100/1

7 Humble Hero8/11

8 War Chief11/1

9 W S Gilbert200/1

10 Idilico7/2

11 Blue Ballerina200/1

wincanton Towergate Caravan Insurance Handicap Hurdle2m 5f 82y - £6823 - Good (Good to Soft in places)

1 Mercenaire12/1

2 Merry Milan12/1

3 Buywise17/2

4 Sandymount12/1

5 Pilansberg9/2

6 Honest Vic11/4

7 Myplaceatmidnight6/1

8 Pineapple Rush8/1

9 Shillingsworth14/1

10 Away For Slates100/1

11 Way Out West16/1

12 Cotton Club100/1

market rasen MansionBet Handicap Hurdle2m 7f 16y - £5198 - Good to Soft

1 Ballyart18/1

2 Ballyhome5/1

3 Almost Gold8/1

4 Iwilldoit7/4

5 Weakfield15/2

6 Loch Linnhe40/1

7 Let's Get At It3/1

8 Pershing Missile50/1

ludlow EBF/Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Mares' Novices' Chase2m 4f 11y - £7538 - Good (Good to Firm in places)

1 Kupatana11/8

2 Brillare Momento11/4

3 Little Miss Poet7/4

wincanton Healthy Pets 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle1m 7f 65y - £4549 - Good (Good to Soft in places)

1 Thistle Do Nicely11/4

2 Envole Toi14/1

3 Big Bamboo250/1

4 Clondaw Whisper250/1

5 Kauto The King14/1

6 Manofthemoment16/1

7 Nineohtwooneoh15/2

8 Rowley Park40/1

9 Storm Fire250/1

10 Vinnie Rouge80/1

11 Whatsmeanttobe16/1

12 Elusive Belle1/1

13 Win My Wings40/1

market rasen MansionBet Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle2m 2f 140y - £5198 - Good to Soft

1 Friday Night Light7/2

2 Ceara Be11/2

3 Oregon Gold15/2

4 Corinto11/2

5 Minella Fiveo10/1

6 Twotwothree4/1

7 Rockliffe5/1

ludlow Jubilee Restaurant Maiden Hurdle2m 5f 55y - £4874 - Good (Good to Firm in places)

1 Bob Maxwell100/1

2 Do It For Thy Sen20/1

3 Family Man66/1

4 Gaelic Poet22/1

5 Game In The Park100/1

6 Mayohill40/1

7 Monk's View14/1

8 Rapper13/8

9 Reve5/1

10 Stop The World7/2

11 Sudden Destination9/2

12 All Change125/1

13 Organdi28/1

14 Shelcomeonfordrun25/1

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CSF£69.15
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Winning JockeyR Winston
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Pl£3.40, £4.20
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Trifecta£337.50
CSF£97.49
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