This year’s Cheltenham Festival has seen more casualties than Arsenal’s treatment table with ante-post Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack becoming the latest victim.
Last year’s World Hurdle winner was ruled out for the season by trainer Colin Tizzard on Tuesday morning after a slight ‘tendon tear.’
But after reigning champ Don Cossack and 2015 winner Coneygree were both ruled out of the March 17 showpiece, Paddy Power has decided on a justice refund as a free bet for any wagers placed on Thistlecrack in the ante-post market including the RSA Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and to ‘win any race’ markets.
Punters have been left reeling by the defections of former Champion Hurdlers Faugheen and Annie Power from the day one opener this year, while Willie Mullins also ruled Min out of a crack at Altior in the Arkle Trophy.
A spokesman for Paddy Power said:
This is devastating news for both the Tizzard team and the sport in general as Thistlecrack looked such a superstar in the making when landing the King George. We don’t want punters to suffer any further after this huge body blow, so we’ve decided on a justice refund for ante post bets.
Paddy had already put his hand in his pocket when news of Faugeen and Min’s withdrawl from Cheltenham 2017 was revealed earlier this month and the Dublin-based firm was already NON RUNNER NO BET ON ALL RACES at the four-day Festival that comes under orders on Tuesday, March 13.
After this latest development, Thistlecrack’s stablemates Native River and Cue Card head the Gold Cup betting at 3/1 and 10/3 respectively with the twice-placed Willie Mullins’ Djakadam is next best at 9/2 ahead of compatriots Outlander, Sizing John, Empire of Dirt & Don Poli.