The 2012 Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner and the bookmakers are furiously slashing odds on favourites as they ferociously prepare for their upcoming races. Exciting novice chaser Al Ferof now become Ladbrokes joint 8-1 fourth-favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Owner John Hales revealed that last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner, who will step out of novice company for the first time in the Victor Chandler Chase on January 21, could bypass the Arkle Chase in favour of the Champion.

“We’ve put him in at 8-1 behind the two established chasers, Sizing Europe and Big Zeb, and Finians Rainbow as that’s where we think he is at the moment.

“We’ve afforded the entry a great deal of respect as it does not strike us as tilting at windmills. We’re also non-runner no-bet on the race and that has to be factored in,” said Ladbrokes spokesman David Williams.

Paddy Power stuck their head above the parapet by offering a standout 14-1, while Coral, who eased the Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old to 7-1 (from 5-1) for the Arkle, go 10-1 for the Champion Chase.