Faugheen Out of Cheltenham

When we grab early prices ahead of the big events with smug grins and dreams of wealth most of us forget the risks of a non runner and that has never been any clearer than this afternoon, as we just found out that odds on Faugheen will miss the Cheltenham Festival thanks to a suspensory ligament injury.

Those who backed him “non runner no bet” will not be out of pocket, but his withdrawal has seen a shake up in the betting market with easy Punchestown winner Annie Power suddenly introduced in to the odds lists at 2/1 in places. She isn’t currently entered but could be supplemented at the 6 day declaration stage for £20,000, and Willie Mullins has said already said he is considering it.

Arctic Fire is now as low as 7/2 with most bookmakers, while Nichols Canyon is 4/1, meaning that – combined with Annie Power – Willie Mullins still holds the top 3 in the market despite the withdrawal of the strong favourite. There could well now be value in the field at bigger odds given the new nature of the field, and our Cheltenham Festival races tips will be updated in the coming week with a Champion Hurdle tip.

After winning the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle in 2014 he arrived at Cheltenham last year as the 4/5 favourite and never gave his many supporters too many worries for a length and a half victory over stable mate Arctic Fire. Luckily this type of injury is not usually career threatening and he should be back next year.

Faugheen’s usual jockey Ruby Walsh appeared as shocked as everyone else when asked for his thoughts after dismounting Annie Power, describing the news as: “Someone’s taken the ace out the pack”. Regardless, with Willie Mullins’ hand he’ll still be on the favourite come the 14th of March. Which horse that favourite is remains to be seen.

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