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Huge news has just broke through that both Faugheen and Min will miss out on the Cheltenham Festival. This is a huge blow not to just Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci but also to racing fans across the United Kingdom and Ireland. Many ante post punters’ will be in tears at the news yet others will be absolutely thrilled, such is the volatile nature of this betting game.
This news is not the most surprising as he missed the Irish Champion Hurdle due to a setback. He was the favourite for the Champion Hurdle at the time of his withdrawal today and it is a huge blow to the race. However, we now have a ferociously competitive Champion Hurdle on our hands and it’s Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’Air who heads the market at this precise moment in time at a best price of 4/1. We hope to see “The Machine” back in action again at Punchestown but his lengthy lay-off has to be a huge concern at this stage, retirement could be on the cards if all does not go to plan
The horse that would gain his revenge on Altior this season is now out of the Cheltenham Festival and that will put a smile on the face of Nicky Henderson who should have a penalty kick for the Arkle this season. Min was beat by the Seven Barrows star in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last season but looked brilliant over fences this season and certainly filled out a lot too. Whether he would have beat Altior is a question up for debate but we will never know now and it is a tragedy for us punters as it was a huge clash and probably the most talked duel of the week.
One thing is for sure, Willie Mullins could still saddle our favourite for the Champion Hurdle next month, such is the firepower at his disposal. He hinted at a return to hurdles for Yorkhill a couple of weeks ago so for us, we feel he will be supplemented for the race and if he is, the available 5/1 with Betway looks a sublime bet for the race. He has already disposed of horses’ like Yanworth in his career, if he turns up he will go off favourite for this. We already know that when Willie needs a super-sub, he has a good one. Annie Power showed us just that last season. Willie Mullins can still win the Champion Hurdle, make no mistake about it.
It has been a desperate season for Willie Mullins thus far. Not only are some of his best horses’ out of the festival, it is also the season that Gigginstown House Stud pulled out of his stable. He is also in danger of losing his Irish Trainers’ Title as Gordon Elliott has a healthy €200,000+ lead over him. The only way is surely up and let’s hope the season improves for him. He will still have a terrific fleet of horses’ to go to war with in March and winners are assured. Let’s just hope this is the end of the bad news.