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Published: 14:04 | 17/2/16

Faugheen out of Cheltenham

Champion hurdler has met with a setback

Faugheen has been ruled out of the Stan James Champion Hurdle at next month's Cheltenham Festival.

Willie Mullins' charge had been the hot favourite to defend his crown at the National Hunt Festival but he has met with a setback which will rule him out of a trip to Prestbury Park.

"Unfortunately, we've had a hold-up with Faugheen and he won't be going to Cheltenham," Mullins told the Racing Post on Wednesday.

"When we started back working him this week we discovered he had a sore suspensory and, while it isn't a serious problem, it's come at a bad time and it means we've had to abandon plans to run him in the Champion Hurdle."

Faugheen had looked in good condition when he won the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown just over a month after he claimed the Kempton's Christmas Hurdle.

While the eight-year-old will miss this year's Festival, Mullins is confident the problem will not have a long-term impact on his career.

"It's something like what happened to Hurricane Fly going to Cheltenham and he came back and was as sound as a pound for five or six years after," Mullins stated.

"We think the prognosis is very good and he should be back as good as new next year."

News of Faugheen's injury broke shortly before Annie Power made his seasonal reappearance at Punchestown.

Sent off the 1-20 favourite, Annie Power took control or the punchestown.com Mares Hurdle from the outset and never looked in danger of being beaten, scoring by six-and-a-half-lengths.

Although the Mares Hurdle is her likely destination, Mullins admits she could now be re-routed to the Champion Hurdle.

"She was very keen today, the hood probably helped her with that but I suppose it was just a schooling exercise," Mullins told At The Races.

"It was plenty for her at this stage and there will be plenty of harder bits of work to do with her.

"We could certainly get her supplemented for the Champion Hurdle.

"I haven't spoken to the owner yet but I think it must be on the cards."

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