Ferny Hollow, a best-priced 6-4 favourite for Cheltenham's Arkle Challenge Trophy on March 15, will miss the National Hunt Festival – and the rest of the season.
News of another setback for the Cheveley Park Stud’s injury-plagued gelding compounded a day of frustration for Willie Mullins after Klassical Dream met with a shock defeat in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park.
Ferny Hollow, kept off course for 380 days by a fractured hip, returned to score twice over fences in December, including a top-level win at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.
But the seven-year-old son of Westerner faces another spell on the sidelines after sustaining a ligament injury, Ireland’s champion trainer revealed last night.
“It's very disappointing,” said Mullins. “He's sore and we've decided to pull up stumps for the season.”
Klassical Dream lost his place at the top of the Stayers' Hurdle betting after his defeat in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle.
Punters made Paul Townend’s mount, who racked up a fifth Grade One success when landing the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown last month, the 1-3 favourite for his Cheltenham Festival prep.
But having made the running, Mullins' eight-year-old backpedalled from the penultimate flight to finish a tame fourth, beaten 11½ lengths, behind the Peter Fahey-trained Royal Kahala.
“It's disappointing but he was making a lot of his own running on very testing ground,” said Ireland’s champion trainer.
"I think that was all – that he just did too much in front.
“It wasn’t really on the agenda for him, and then we decided to run at the last minute, but he was too fresh in Leopardstown and I wanted to get a run into him.
“We have that now and I can prepare him. Learning the lessons that we learned today with him might help us to win in Cheltenham.”
Klassical Dream, as short as 2-1 market leader for the Stayers’ Hurdle at the start of trading, can now be backed at 6-1.
Champ, who faces four rivals in the Welsh Marches Stallions At Chapel Stud Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham tomorrow, is Ladbrokes’ new 11-4 favourite for the March 17 showpiece.
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