Willie Mullins confirmed his star novice chaser Energumene has met with a setback and will miss Tuesday's Arkle Chase.
Energumene was last seen in devastating fashion when winning the Irish Arkle Chase at Leopardstown. That run left him second in the market behind the Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin.
Minds were well and truly blown when Thom joined the lads 😂@gergilroy and @EoinSheahan were today years old when @thom_malone let them in on a little secret of horse racing 🏇@GilletteUK | #MadeOfWhatMatters
Full Video ➡️ https://t.co/lngNFkK8Rl pic.twitter.com/cVeaVDvDl6
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) March 11, 2021
The trainer made the announcement on Friday on social media.
"Unfortunately, Energumene has met with a setback and won’t be running at the Cheltenham Festival next week. It is very disappointing for all connections," the post read.
Energumene was set to put Shishkin's unbeaten record to the test in the first of the week's novice chases.
The Tony Bloom owned gelding has won his last five races including all three over fences
The absence will be a blow to Mullins, although the Carlow trainer still has a dozen favourites to call on over the course of the week, including Gold Cup hat-trick seeker Al Boum Photo and another unbeaten chaser, Monkfish.
More Cheltenham absentees
The Stayers Hurdle also suffered a significant absentee on Friday morning, in what was a bleak hour for many ante-post punters.
Thyme Hill was ruled out of the race, leaving Paisley Park an even shorter-priced favourite at the top of the market.
— Nick Luck (@nickluck) March 12, 2021
Nick Luck reported that the horse has a minor muscular issue and will instead be aimed at Aintree, a track that may suit his running style more than the stamina-laden effort which would be required at Cheltenham.
While another horse that will be diverted to Aintree rather than Cheltenham on Tuesday is Jason the Militant. The Henry de Bromhead trained gelding was an impressive winner of the rescheduled Redd Mills trial hurdle at Fairyhouse when last seen.
Owner Peter Michael confirmed on Friday morning that the horse will not be lining up in the Champion Hurdle.
Don't miss the Cheltenham show every day next week on OTB Sports.