Last season’s County Hurdle winner Saint Roi was kicked out of the Cheltenham Festival by Willie Mullins.
The six-year-old was the final winner of the Barry Geraghty Festival when he entered handicap company in March, and entered the summer as one of the main players of the Champion Hurdle.
His season started well with a victory at Tipperary in October – but since advancing in class he has been beaten in the Morgiana Hurdle, Matheson Hurdle and Champion of Ireland.
Mullins said: “Unfortunately he is out of Cheltenham. In chatting with JP (McManus, owner) the other day we came to the conclusion that we are not happy with him and that he will not be racing at Cheltenham .
“He just didn’t go ahead. He had a little problem or two, and I think JP was happy to let him get over it completely. Maybe that’s the reason – can -be not. “
Mullins still has three possible Champion Hurdles – Sharjah, who finished second last year, injury-prone Saldier and an intriguing new signing from France, James Du Berlais. However, Sharjah might need a new jockey as amateurs are not allowed to ride in the UK at the moment.
“I’m happy with him (Sharjah). Maybe the last race came too soon after Christmas. Patrick (Mullins) has his own way of riding him. The better the terrain, the better his chances,” said Mullins
“Things aren’t going well at the moment, we’ll have to see if the protocols change. It seems tough right now anyway. This will be a problem for me, Gordon (Elliott) and all the other coaches with good amateurs, but that will be what it is.
“Saldier won’t be racing in the rescheduled Red Mills, where it was pretty close. He entered County Hurdle, but he’s been targeting the Champion Hurdle all year, so we’re pushing all the buttons we can to get it. ‘bring it there. “
Of James Du Berlais, now owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, he added: “He had a very busy season in France last year and was bought as a novice hunter for next season, but he is long in wait. .
“I was happy to run it somewhere, but I’m not going to run it in the Stayers, so we said ‘run in the Champion and try’, rather than doing nothing all spring.
“I think he got a 167 rating which puts him on the line. It will be a real race – as always.”