Refunds for Ladbrokes punters as Grandouet pulls out of Festival

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Hurricane Fly remains an appetising 4/6 in the Cheltenham odds to win the Champion Hurdle and this looks even better value now arguably his biggest challenger has been pulled out.

Grandouet was positioned close to the head of the Champion Hurdle betting after a near perfect start to the season, consisting of two victories and a fall at Wincanton at November when seemingly ready to canter to victory.

However, it was discovered that the horse had injured a joint in a rear leg recently and despite surgery to drain fluid from the joint, trainer Nicky Henderson has decided that the Festival will come too soon.

Punters to have backed Grandouet with Ladbrokes will not lose out though because of the non-runner, money back offer that is being run across the four big races of the Festival.

With another challenger Zarkandar also potentially struggling for fitness because of a cough and a runny nose, the Champion Hurdle, like the Cheltenham Gold Cup, could rapidly turn into a two-horse race.

Binocular now looks the main competition at 9/2 in the Champion Hurdle and looked on the right track towards peak fitness when readily winning recently at Wincanton.

Sceptical punters will still want further proof that one success against a no more than good field does little to show that Binocular is anywhere close to the level of form that saw him win the Champion Hurdle in 2010.

Meanwhile, others will argue that even if a minor breathing operation has had a positive impact, the horse at its best is still below the level of Hurricane Fly.

If Hurricane Fly does win, the first day of Cheltenham may prove an even more profitable one for punters should Sprinter Sacre win earlier in the day in the Arkle Chase, for which he is currently 1/1.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.