Reigning Champion Hurdle hero Espoir D’Allen is set to miss the entire jumps season after a fall during a routine piece of homework.
The Gavin Cromwell-trained five-year-old stormed to victory in the two-mile showpiece at Cheltenham in March, with 15 lengths to spare over Melon in second spot.
The hat-trick seeking Buveur D’Air – also running in the JP McManus silks – had fallen early in the contest, while ante-post favourite Apple’s Jade failed to give her running in a disappointing showing.
Espoir D’Allen became only the second five-year-old to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham since See You Then in 1985. Having been put out to summer grass following that success in March, Espoir D’Allen was back in work at Cromwell’s yard.
But he’s now at Fethard Equine Hospital and continues to be assessed following his mishap. Given his age, connections are set to take a patient approach in regards to his recovery. McManus’ racing manager Frank Berry said:
“Unfortunately he reared over when he got spooked on his way back to the yard last week. “He’s at Fethard and they are thoroughly checking him over. As yet we’re not exactly sure but it looks like he’ll be out for the season. Hopefully we’ll know a bit more by the end of the week.
“It’s a real blow for Gavin and his team who did so well with him last season. “I suppose if there’s any saving grace in all this, it is that he’s only a five-year-old, he’s young enough to be given plenty of time.”
Last season’s Supreme Novices’ winner Klassical Dream, trained by Willie Mullins, is the new ante-post favourite for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham at 5.00, while Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’Air is trading at 8.00 to reclaim his crown.