Racing: Punter bets £40,000 on Denman

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Ladbrokes have cut Denman in the Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle market after a telephone punter wagered £40,000 at 7-4 yesterday.

Paul Nicholls' six-year-old is now trading at 6-4 which makes him the shortest priced favourite at the meeting ahead of Champion Hurdle favourite Brave Inca, currently 13-8. Ladbrokes also laid a £30,000 bet on Black Jack Ketchum in the SunAlliance Hurdle, and cut his price to 9-2.

The firm also report support for Hi Cloy and Sir Oj in the Ryanair Chase.

At Ayr yesterday, the conditional jockey Paul O'Neill was suspended for 21 days and trainer Richard Guest fined £3,000 over the running and riding of Sobers.

The stewards held an inquiry after the five-year-old finished a 23-length fourth in the second race, a maiden hurdle.

Sobers was banned from running for 40 days (13 March to 21 April) and the stewards decided the jockey had not taken all reasonable and permissible measures to obtain the best possible placing.

Guest, who has yet to decide whether to appeal, said: "I am absolutely shocked. I know it did not look very good, but Paul came back in and said straight away the horse had gurgled and he told the clerk of the scales. I have had some harsh decisions in the past, but that is the harshest. We came up here expecting two winners and that is what we hoped for."

O'Neill, whom will in effect be sidelined from 21 March to 21 April inclusive, added: "The horse was gurgling and I thought I was doing the right thing."

Stipendiary steward Phil Tuck said: "We considered that the verbal evidence was not borne out by the visual evidence."