Penhill Out Of Cheltenham

Penhill Out Of Cheltenham

The dominoes continue to fall as last season’s Stayers Hurdle winner Penhill will not be able to defend his crown this year, after being ruled out Cheltenham through injury. 

The news came a couple of days after Joseph O'Brien's Le Richebourg also had to abandon his plans for the soon-to-be dawning Festival, after a season-ending mishap cancelled his date in the Racing Post Arkle.

Penhill had been on course to make his seasonal reappearance in the Day Three feature - the same route he took twelve months ago when coming back from a lengthy layoff, fresh as a daisy, to land the coveted Grade One.

He was last seen finishing second to stablemate Faugheen in the Champion Stayers Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival last April, and there is yet to be word on whether he will be fit for a return there.

The only words Mullins has been quoted on saying regarding the 8yo, is that: "He worked yesterday but was very sore this morning."

The 2017 winner of the Albert Bartlett Novice’s Hurdle in 2017 is usually prepared in these sort of circumstances, and despite a positive update at his media conference last week, Mullins has lost one of his leading contenders.

Like any great Trainers Champion, Mullins still remains upbeat with his chances in two weeks time.

He still has a realistic contender in Faugheen, who as a result of Penhill's removal, has been automatically cut in the betting.

Faugheen proved his longevity and stamina attributes in that contest at Punchestown at the back end of last season, winning by a margin on thirteen lengths.

The former Champion Hurdler lost out in a battle of speed to Sharjah in the Morgiana Hurdle on his seasonal reappearance, but was serving it up to Apples Jade in the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle on his return to three miles, when coming down when seeming to be in with every chance at two out.

Ruby Walsh - the jockey on board, reported Faugheen to be well but sore after the race, but alerted everyone to the fact that up until his early departure, the 10yo was giving him all the signs that the old machine was still there.

Penhill was priced around the 6/1 mark, and it would have been an outstanding piece of training if Mullins had managed to get him back to the top of his game without the need for racecourse run.

Paisley Park for Emma Lavelle now looks ultra-solid at the top of the betting, with all the 2/1 on offer seemingly now dissolving before our eyes.

Samcro and last year's runner up Supasundae remain prominent in the market.