The Willie Mullins trained Saint Roi will miss the Cheltenham festival explains his handler with the once leading contender in the Champion Hurdle now set to swerve the meeting and be aimed at the Punchestown festival instead.
The five year old for JP McManus signed off last season with two smart wins which saw him seeking a hat-trick on his seasonal return at Tipperary in September.
Having won at Tramore in a maiden hurdle he headed to the Cheltenham festival for the Grade Three County Hurdle and was a superb winner giving Barry Geraghty his final ever festival winner.
This season Willie Mullins had been targeting him at the Champion Hurdle and in preparation he stepped him up into Grade Three company for his seasonal debut and he won nicely
Mullins believed this gelding is a Grade One winner in the making, but on his three latest showings, it is clear to see that he is not ready to mix it with the best in the Champion Hurdle.
In November on his second start of the term he was a neck second to Abacadabras in the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle and then next time out again stepped up for another Grade One in the Matheson Hurdle and was outclassed into fourth.
On somewhat of a redemption mission the gelding went into the Irish Champion Hurdle last time out, but again was underwhelming and could only finish a long way fourth behind the better horses in the division.
With all this evidence and the Closutton maestro not been overly happy with his state heading into the festival, he made the decision to not send him to Cheltenham in March and he will now try and be ready for the Punchestown festival.
(Credit ATR) Mullins said: “Unfortunately he’s out of Cheltenham. Chatting to JP (McManus, owner) the other day we came to the conclusion that we’re not happy with him, and he won’t run at Cheltenham.
“He just hasn’t gone forward. He’s had one or two little niggles, and I think JP was happy to just let him get over those entirely. Maybe they are the reason – maybe not.”