Bookmakers were last night running scared of the fit-again Ruby Walsh ahead of the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Walsh rides the favourite in the opening two races, Getabird in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Footpad in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase while Faugheen also has a chance in the Unibet Champion Hurdle.

With that in mind, Ladbrokes are wary of the Walsh factor today.

Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes said: “Walsh has the ability to make or break our week and shape our entire year.

We’ve known some costly Ruby Tuesdays at Cheltenham but a successful treble will be the most expensive yet.

“We are expecting Getabird and Footpad to win, but Faugheen looks the weakest link in the treble and could do us a big favour.”

Despite fearing a Ruby Tuesday, bookmakers feel there is enough in their favour to suggest they will avoid a massive pay-out today.

In a week that could see as much as £300m (€338.1m) bet across the industry by optimistic punters, there are four short-priced favourites on the first afternoon — and the layers are clinging to the hope that one of them will fall short.

Bookmakers rate Getabird and Footpad as far from being certainties.

The other two hotpots, Buveur D’Air in the Champion Hurdle and Apple’s Jade in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, are seen more like good things.

The obvious starting point is the four short-priced favourites, which has been a feature of recent Festivals,” said David Stevens of Coral.

“On their own, we don’t fear them as they are short enough, but punters will put them in doubles, trebles, four-folds and even later in the week with the likes of Samcro.

“As always in these situations, we’d just take one of them to lose tomorrow.

“I think there’s enough question marks against the first two.”

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Frits Potgieter is General Manager with Muckross Park Hotel and Spa.You've Been Served: Frits Potgieter, Muckross Park Hotel and Spa

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