The Storyteller, trained by Gordon Elliott, has been forced to pull out of the Cheltenham Festival.
Favourite for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle on Friday at 4-1, a muscle injury has seen the in-form six-year-old pulled out.
Elliott told his Betfair blog: ”Unfortunately, The Storyteller pulled a muscle while exercising this morning and will not make it to the Festival.“
Elliott had seen his horse claim dominant wins in each of his last two races, at Down Royal and Thurles, by an aggregate of 18 lengths.
But his withdrawal comes as a big blow, having been forced to withdraw Don Poli from the Gold Cup also.
Conditions at Prestbury Park meanwhile remain unchanged, with only a little rain forecast ahead of the Festival, which gets underway on Tuesday.
“I’m leaving the old and new courses as good to soft, and the cross-country course is still good to soft, good in places,” said clerk of the course Simon Claisse.
“The outlook remains mostly dry, although we might get a little light rain.
“Watering is not in our current thinking. We are only looking to the beginning of the week.”