With the start of the Cheltenham Festival less than two weeks away it was sad to hear that one of the fancied runners at the annual renewal, Backspin, died at his stables over night.The well-liked six-year-old was suspected to have passed away as a result of a heart attack at trainer Jonjo O’Neill’s yard. The JP McManus-owned horse held entries for both the Stan James Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle and was well-fancied with an unbeaten record.

The horse had won three times including a victory in the Grade One Challow Hurdle at Newbury and was attracting attention from many shrewd punters in the Cheltenham Festival ante-post betting market.

The cause of the death will be officially announced following a post mortem and the yard was quick to release the news with the start of Cheltenham so close.

On a more positive note, trainer Philip Hobbs was able to report that the horse betting favourite Menorah came through a stiff gallop at Exeter with flying colours. The six-year-old is looking to follow up last season’s Supreme Novices’ triumph with a victory in the Champion Hurdle this year.

The horse hasn’t been seen in action since defeating Cue Card, the banker bet for many people for the Festival this year, and grabbing victory in the International Hurdle in December.

Oscar Whiskey, another entered for the Champion Hurdle, was also reported to have put in some good work during a run-out at Kempton on Tuesday and is expected to have plenty of horse bets placed in his favour in a difficult race at the annual renewal.

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