Binocular has been ruled out of the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle due to a muscle problem.
Nicky Henderson’s charge finished third behind stablemate Punjabi in the Cheltenham Festival feature last term and had been the favourite to claim the crown at the start of the season.
However, an odds-on disappointment on his reappearance in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle last November was followed by another defeat, albeit a narrow one, in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
Binocular bounced back to winning form in a moderate event at Sandown earlier this month, but despite his easy success, Henderson was not satisfied and the six-year-old underwent a full examination.
Henderson said: “He’s completely sound but a minor, yet significant, muscle problem has been diagnosed and explains our concerns.
“We feel we don’t have sufficient time to treat this in order for him to do himself justice in the Champion Hurdle.
“We have unfortunately decided to put him away for the season to ensure he can begin next term as normal and 100% for a full campaign, which we obviously hope will lead us back to Champion Hurdle.”