Old Guard ruled out of Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham

Old Guard will miss tomorrow’s Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham after failing to recover from a minor setback in time.
Old Guard ruled out of Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham

Paul Nicholls was disappointed with his charge’s work on Saturday and the five-year-old was reported to be sore yesterday morning.

The Ditcheat handler had intended to wait until this morning before making a final call on Old Guard’s participation, but he opted to withdraw him from the race on last night, with attention now focussed on trying to get the son of Notnowcato fit for Aintree next month.

Nicholls tweeted: “Sadly Old Guard is sore this evening and will not run in the Champion Hurdle (on) Tuesday.

“Will try to get him ready for Aintree.”

That leaves a field 12 to go to post, headed by the Willie Mullins-trained Annie Power.

The mare was supplemented at the confirmation stage last Wednesday, as expected, due to an injury to last year’s winner Faugheen.

Both Faugheen and Annie Power are owned by Rich Ricci. Ruby Walsh will ride Annie Power, the number one for the Mullins team, with Paul Townend aboard Nichols Canyon.

Mullins is also represented by Sempre Medici, also carrying the Ricci colours.

Fighting Fifth Hurdle winner Identity Thief, trained by Henry de Bromhead, is the other Irish-based runner.

The home team is headed by The New One, having his third run in the race for Nigel Twiston-Davies.

Nicky Henderson is responsible for five of the starters — the long-absent My Tent Or Yours, last year’s Triumph Hurdle winner Peace And Co, Hargam, Sign Of A Victory and Top Notch.

Lil Rockerfeller, who was the other supplementary entry, takes his chance for Neil King while Robert Walford’s Camping Ground completes the list.

Meanwhile, Vroum Vroum Mag is among 20 horses declared for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle .

Mullins is looking for an eighth consecutive victory in this race after six-time heroine Quevega, winner from 2009-14 and Glens Melody 12 months ago. Vroum Vroum Mag is certain to go off a short-price favourite to continue the Mullins dominance of the mares’ showpiece.

Vroum Vroum Mag has won all her eight starts for the Mullins stable — the first six over fences and the last two over hurdles.

Mullins has also left in Gitane Du Berlais but he took out his other possible, Whiteout.

Flute Bowl will try to justify her supplementary fee having been added to the field at the confirmation stage by trainer Gary Moore.

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