WILLIE MULLINS says Faugheen will be “good as new” next year after confirming that he will not defend the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The eight-yearold has suffered a suspensory ligament injury.
Trainer Mullins said: “It needs eight or nine weeks’ rest. That rules out the rest of the National Hunt season.”
Annie Power is now favourite for the Festival opening-day feature.
RICH RICCI will turn to supersub mare Annie Power after the shock news reigning champ Faugheen is out for the season.
Brilliant eight-year-old Faugheen, who romped home in last year’s Champion Hurdle, was as short as 1-4 to win the March 15 thriller.
However trainer Willie Mullins revealed he will miss the race due to a ligament injury, diagnosed after his first serious piece of work since his win at Leopardstown last month.
Mullins said of his crocked champ: “We were just bringing him back. I thought I had better start doing a bit with him and was just getting serious.
“However he was just a little bit sore and the best decision was to stop. He’ll be back for next year.”
Ruby Walsh, fresh from cantering home on Annie Power at Punchestown yesterday was as shocked as anyone by the news.
Walsh said: “It’s very dissapointing. It’s like someone whipping the ace out of the pack, along with all the other cards.”