Sore shin blamed for Fundamentalist’s Cheltenham flop

NIGEL Twiston-Davies has revealed a sore shin was to blame for Fundamentalist’s poor display of jumping at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The highly-rated seven-year-old put in a number of uncharacteristic errors at his fences in the Unicoin Homes “Dipper” Novices’ Chase, eventually blundering and unseating Carl Llewellyn at the 10th obstacle.

Twiston-Davies had been at a loss to explain his performance and had hinted at getting the horse back out on the track quickly, but now that this news has come to light, he will spend a week in the swimming pool first.

“He is a bit lame and he has got a sore shin, which is the reason that he did not jump very well,” said the Naunton handler.

“We will swim him for a week now, and he will be back on song before long.”

After the race, Fundamentalist’s odds were lengthened for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy, the race that looks his most likely Festival target next March.

Following the news of Fundamentalist’s slight setback, punters have been keen to support the Paul Nicholls-trained Kauto Star in the Arkle Chase.

The five-year-old made an impressive start with a nine-length defeat of Foreman at Newbury last week and William Hill now make him the 5-1 market leader from 6s.

Hills bet: 5-1 Kauto Star, 6-1 Fundamentalist, 12-1 Cloone River, Contraband, 14-1 River City, Royal Alphabet, 16-1 Foreman, Made In Japan, Mariah Rollins, Quazar, Watson Lake, 20-1 bar.

Meanwhile Timmy Murphy has been backed down to 7-2 second favourite for the National Hunt jockeys’ title with Ladbrokes.

Punters have plunged on Murphy following the seven-day ban picked up by reigning champion Tony McCoy at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Ladbrokes have eased McCoy from 1-7 to 1-5, while Murphy’s price has been chopped from 7-1.

“As soon as McCoy’s ban was announced punters have wanted to back Murphy.

“Much like Frankie (Dettori) was backed in from 33s for the Flat jockey’s title, Murphy was so unfancied we were not even quoting him before he joined (champion owner) David Johnson at Pond House, upon which he was introduced at 7-1,” said Balthazar Fabricius of Ladbrokes.

“McCoy would only need to have a bad fall or some other mishap and be out for a few weeks for Murphy to suddenly be odds-on.”

Brian Reilly picked up a two-day ban at Southwell yesterday after being found guilty of misuse of the whip.

The rider was adjudged to have not given runner-up Shifty Night time to respond in the Jane “Mine’s A Stella” Allan Banded Stakes.

Reilly will be out of action on January 13 and 14.

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