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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Ch'Tibello ruled out of Champion Hurdle with foot problem

Ballyandy: winner of the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury
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The Champion Hurdle has lost an interesting outsider with Ch'Tibello a late withdrawal.

Trainer Dan Skelton, who suffered a blow on Monday when opening-day hope Value At Risk was ruled out by injury, tweeted: "Ch'Tibello out. He's got an infected foot; bad timing but he will go to Punchestown."

Elsewhere on the card there has been strong support for Ultima Handicap Chase favourite Singlefarmpayment, who has been backed into 11-2 (from 15-2), while Beware The Bear, 7-1 (from 8), has been popular for the National Hunt Chase.

The ground remained good to soft on Tuesday morning and clerk of the course Simon Claisse said: "We had a dry night. It was a bit a little bit murky and cloudy this morning. We expect the cloud to rise during the day and hopefully we will have some sunny spells.

"The going on the chase and hurdle courses on the Old course remains good to soft. If the sun comes out and the wind just blows a little bit, it may dry out and we may end up with good in places sometime through the afternoon."

Punters are siding with substance over hype in the festival curtain-raiser as Ballyandy has joined Melon at the top of the market with most firms for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

The battle-hardened Ballyandy can not only draw on festival-winning form, having won last year's Champion Bumper, but also cruised home in the Betfair Hurdle, which has proved a good guide for the Supreme. He has been backed into 3-1 (from 7-2) with BetVictor and Ladbrokes.

Melon, on the other hand, has a solitary jumps success to his name, coming on his only start in a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown, and faces a fight for favouritism.

BetVictor spokesperson Charlie McCann said: "We have taken more bets on Ballyandy than Melon overnight and in the early salvos this morning but still feel the Mullins/Walsh factor will ensure Melon goes off favourite for the opening Supreme Novices' Hurdle."

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh have combined to win three of the last four runnings of the Supreme and the jockey has opted for Melon over stablemates Bunk Off Early, Crack Mome and Cilaos Emery.

When asked on ITV4's Opening Show why he had chosen Melon, he replied: "Willie – he kept talking about Melon."

The ex-French Flat performer was one of the Mullins string to stretch their legs on the course on Tuesday morning and Walsh said: "He's in great form and has taken to the surroundings really well. There are two big questions – he lacks a bit of experience and is he good enough?

"We're taking it on trust from his homework and I loved the way he went through the line [at Leopardstown] and how far he went to pull up."

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We have taken more bets on Ballyandy than Melon overnight and in the early salvos this morning
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