Two of the biggest guns from the Willie Mullins yard have been ruled out of next moths Cheltenham Festival.
Willie Mullins has announced that the 2014 Neptune hurdle and 2015 Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen has been ruled out of the festival with an injury. The horse missed a return to the track just over a week ago when he was set to run at Leopardstown but his trainer was hoping that he would make sufficient recovery after that set back to meet the festival engagement that the horse held as the favourite for the 2017 Champion Hurdle in a few weeks’ time.
He missed his chance to win the title for the second time last year when an injury sustained in the 2016 Irish Champion hurdle ruled that out so it is a blow to his trainer and also his high-profile owner Rich Ricci.
It was confirmed that the horse has sustained a stress fracture and so running at Cheltenham was out of the question however it is hoped he will return for the Punchestown festival a few weeks later.
The pairs second blow came when they had to rule out the smart Min who was entered in both the Arkle and the JLT although the Arkle would have been his target. Min was another of many peoples “bankers” at the meeting when a return was on the cards for last year’s Supreme novice hurdle second. Min has a bruised cannon bone and is also expected to be fit for a return at the Punchestown Festival in April.
Mullins and Ricci have had a poor time of it lately with one of their best horses, the three times festival winner, Vautour died in a paddock accident on 6th November last year.