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Footpad camp dismiss rumours over red-hot Cheltenham Festival favourite

Footpad: the Arkle favourite drifted alarmingly on Saturday
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An alarming drift on Racing Post Arkle favourite Footpad has been played down by connections who said the classy six-year-old exercised as usual on Saturday morning.

Last year's Champion Hurdle fourth – who runs in the colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede – has developed into a high class novice chaser this season and his three comprehensive wins have propelled him to the head of the betting for the 2m Grade 1.

Trained by Willie Mullins, he began Saturday as evens favourite for the Arkle with bet365 and William Hill, who by 3pm had moved him to 6-4, while he was matched at 4.8 on Betfair.

Ladbrokes eased Footpad, who is also entered in the JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham, to 11-8 (from evens) and reported support for rivals Petit Mouchoir (5-2 from 11-4) and Brain Power (8-1 from 10), but any worries were dismissed by Anthony Bromley, Munir and Souede's racing manager.

"I've spoken to Willie and all is fine with Footpad," said Bromley. "He exercised as normal this morning and Willie sees no reason to change the Arkle plan at this moment in time. All is good. Fingers crossed he stays like that for next ten days."

Munir and Souede have a second dart for the Arkle in the Alan King-trained Sceau Royal, who is set to be partnered by Daryl Jacob, with Ruby Walsh on Footpad.

"The intention is Ruby rides Footpad with Daryl on Sceau Royal but these final decisions won't be made until next weekend," Bromley added. "It's certainly not this weekend they'll be made and I think [the drift] is something of nothing."

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I've spoken to Willie and all is fine with Footpad. He exercised as normal this morning and Willie sees no reason to change the Arkle plan
E.W. Terms