Champion Hurdle runner-up My Tent Or Yours has been ruled out for the season after suffering a tendon injury.
The seven-year-old came within a neck of victory in the hurdling showpiece at the Cheltenham Festival in March, finding only fellow JP McManus-owned runner Jezki too strong up the famous hill.
Trainer Nicky Henderson had been looking forward to seeing his charge defend his crown in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle at the end of next month, but he will now have a prolonged period on the sidelines.
Henderson said: “Unfortunately he’s had an injury and I’m not going to get him back for Cheltenham (in March), so that’s it for the season.
“We were planning to stay over hurdles with him and we were looking at the Fighting Fifth, but that isn’t going to happen now.
“He’s not lame, he’s not sore, he’s not anything really, but there is an issue there unfortunately, which is very frustrating and very boring.”
Willie Mullins meanwhile has decided his unbeaten hurdler Un De Sceaux will pursue a career over fences this season.
The six-year-old has won each of his nine starts to date, including two bumper wins in France, and clinched a couple of significant prizes back in his homeland at Auteuil towards the end of the last campaign.
Many saw the youngster as a potential Champion Hurdle candidate for this term, but speaking in a stable tour on the At The Races website, the champion trainer revealed his charge will be going over the larger obstacles.
Mullins said: “We’ve decided to go novice chasing with him. He’ll start off at the minimum trip and he’ll probably stay there.
“We upped him in trip in France at the backend of last season, but rather than thinking it was the way he wanted to go, it was just that there were two races there with fantastic prize money and we felt he’d be capable of getting away with the longer trip, which he duly did with two very good performances.
“I think soft ground is a big help to him.”
Mullins also revealed his 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs could miss the entire season.
The eight-year-old has been sidelined by injury since last Christmas and his trainer is in no rush to bring his dual Cheltenham Festival winner back to the racecourse.
“He’s only in light training at present and we’re very much playing it by ear with him” said Mullins.
“We’ll do our best to get him to the Gold Cup, but he definitely won’t be seen until the second half of the season and it could be that he doesn’t run at all this season.”
Another dual Festival hero, Champagne Fever, is set to step up in distance this season and is likely to make his return at Punchestown on December 7.
Mullins said: “We are also going to completely change how we ride him, as we think being ridden more quietly might suit him.
“He’ll probably start off in the John Durkan at Punchestown and the King George at Kempton is a race we have in the backs of our minds for him.”
Back In Focus, who spent the whole of last season on the sidelines, could be campaigned with a tilt at the Grand National at Aintree in mind.
The World Hurdle at Cheltenham is a potential long-term target for Briar Hill after Mullins confirmed he will stay over timber.
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