Novice favourites shorten
There has been some notable movement in the markets for both the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.
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Trainer Philip Fenton was due to appear at Carrick-on-Suir District Court on Thursday morning to answer charges brought about by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine relating to the possession of anabolic steroids but the case has been adjourned.
Fenton trains dual Grade One winner The Tullow Tank but the gelding's owner, Barry Connell, has ruled his charge out of the Cheltenham Festival because of the uncertainty regarding Fenton.
The Tullow Tank was as short as 12/1 for the Supreme and a general 7/1 third favourite for the Neptune but he has now been taken out of the betting by the majority of firms.
That has seen the price of the market leaders contract with Faugheen as short as 5/2 for the latter contest (although he remains unchanged at 10/3 with StanJames) and it's a similar story with second favourite Red Sherlock who is into 9/2 in places although 6/1 is still available.
A number of bookmakers have taken the decision to refund ante-post bets on The Tullow Tank.
In other Festival news, a total of 1,038 entries, including 257 from Ireland, have been made for the 11 handicaps.
The £90,000 Festival Trophy Handicap Chase over an extended three miles is the opening handicap of The Festival on Tuesday March 11.
Leading Crabbie's Grand National contenders Teaforthree (trained by Rebecca Curtis) and Triolo D'Alene (Nicky Henderson) are among the 98 entries, while 78 are engaged in the first day's finale, the £60,000 Rewards4Racing Novices' Handicap Chase over an extended two and a half miles.
Ladies Day on Wednesday features three handicaps with the most valuable being the £80,000 Coral Cup (136 entries) over two miles and five furlongs. Big Shu (Peter Maher IRE) and Balthazar King (Philip Hobbs), who scored in 2013 and 2012 respectively, are among 37 entries for £50,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Steeple Chase - moved for the first time this season to the second day of the meeting - while recent Grade One Spring Juvenile Hurdle hero Guitar Pete (Dessie Hughes IRE) tops 75 entries for the £75,000 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
Thursday's card stages three handicaps, kicking off with the £80,000 Listed Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (70 entries) over three miles. The £90,000 Grade Three Byrne Group Plate was won by 50/1 outsider Carrickboy (Venetia Williams) last year and the 10-year-old is among 83 entries for the two mile and a half-mile chase, while 110 entries have been received for the £60,000 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase for amateur riders - the highest figure since 2007.
The handicap action on Betfred Gold Cup Day gets underway with the £80,000 Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle over two miles and a furlong. It has attracted 117 entries, including Captain Cee Bee (Eddie Harty IRE) and Cinders And Ashes (Donald McCain), who captured the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at The Festival in 2008 and 2012 respectively.
The £50,000 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle has received 168 entries, the most of any race at The Festival, and Martin's son David is responsible for 13 of the possible contenders - Ballynagour, Broadway Buffalo, Buddy Bolero, Dell'Arca, Doctor Harper, Heath Hunter, Home Run, Knight Of Noir, Legacy Gold, Massannie, Prideofthecastle, Top Wood and Vieux Lion Rouge.
Meanwhile champion trainer Nicky Henderson has made five entries for the race run in honour of his father, the £90,000 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (66 entries), which concludes the four-day extravaganza.
Weights for all 11 handicaps will be revealed on Wednesday, February 26.