660 days out but the Champion Hurdle target looks a strong bet

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Tiger O’Toole and Paul Moloney may have garnered all the praise at Ascot on Sunday, but Alan King should be receiving the plaudits for his training performance with Walkon.

Following a 660-day absence from the racecourse, Walkon put in a sterling effort to finish half a length behind Tiger O’Toole in the Holloway Hurdle and it was his lack of race time that saw the 2009 Triumph Hurdle runner up just miss out.

And that effort has seen Walkon become a huge market mover in the ante-post Cheltenham Festival Champion Hurdle betting, and the Alan King trained star is now 33/1 from 50/1 to victor at Cheltenham.

A £25 stake on Walkon winning the Champion Hurdle would return £850, and new customers to Ladbrokes.com can sign up here and claim a free Cheltenham bet worth £25.

“Walkon will come on no end for that race,” said King. “I would not be keen on stepping him up to three miles, so his World Hurdle entry at Cheltenham is unlikely, but the Champion is obviously on the agenda.”

To come second on Saturday was a huge feat for both horse and trainer and because of his time away from the track, Walkon offers plenty of value in the Cheltenham betting.

The run takes Walkon’s record to seven runs, four wins and three seconds, and Tiger O’Toole becomes only the second horse to beat Walkon after Zaynar managed it twice.

Admittedly, the competition in the Champion Hurdle is tough, especially after Binocular’s (5/2 to win Champion Hurdle) performance at Kempton earlier in the year, and it will take some performance to go past Hurricane Fly (9/2), Menorah (5/1) and Peddlers Cross (11/2).

But Walkon offers plenty of each way value and punters should get involved before King potentially sends him to Newbury on February 12th.

A £25 stake on Menorah winning the Champion Hurdle would return £150. New customers can sign up here for a free Cheltenham bet worth £25.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.