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Arkle favourite Ferny Hollow ruled out of Cheltenham Festival

By Jon Vine
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28 Jan 2022
  • Ferny Hollow has been ruled out of the 2022 Cheltenham Festival
  • Willie Mullins' star had been the favourite for the Arkle Challenge Trophy
  • Mullins confirmed his star had suffered a ligament injury
  • Klassical Dream drifted in the Stayers' Hurdle betting after a surprise loss in the Galmoy Hurdle
ferny hollow
Paul Townend riding Ferny Hollow win The Weatherbys Champion Bumper. (Getty)
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Willie Mullins confirmed on Thursday that Ferny Hollow would miss the Cheltenham Festival, having picked up a ligament injury.

Ferny Hollow has jumped his way to the head of the Arkle betting, following three sparkling victories during the first half of the season. Mullins' former Champion Bumper winner defeated Riviere D'Etel in a ding-dong battle in the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, despite having to give Gordon Elliott's talented filly almost a stone at the weights.

Most firms listed Ferny Hollow as their 6/4 favourite for the Arkle after that victory. The Arkle betting was thrown into disarray on Thursday though after Mullins revealed Ferny Hollow would be out for the rest of the season.

"He came home very sore from Leopardstown." Mullins told the press. "We were just hoping he might have got away with it. He did his first canter during the week and, unfortunately, he's sore again after it."

"We've decided to pull up stumps for the whole season, rather than trying to get him back for Punchestown. It's very disappointing, but at least he has his Grade 1 win this year and we have a lot to look forward to with him in the future."

Ireland's champion trainer still have a strong hand to play in the Arkle, despite Ferny Hollows absence. Blue Lord now tops the betting at 11/4 with Paddy Power, ahead of Edwardstone. Blue Lord's stablemate Haut En Couleurs is an 8/1 shot in the Arkle, with Saint Sam, Jungle Boogie and Ciel De Neige also in the mix.

A bad day for Willie Mullins got even worse, as Klassical Dream suffered a shock defeat in the Galmoy Hurdle. 

Klassical Dream was two-from-two over three miles, having picked up Grade Ones at Punchestown and Leopardstowns. Paul Townend sent the 1/3 favourite straight to the front, but it was soo apparant turning in that the leader didn't have much left in the tank, and Klassical Dream faded back to fourth as Royal Kahala defeated Home By The Lee.

Paul Townend briefly spoke to the press following the race, simply saying, "it was disappointing, the ground was a bit testing and tacky."

Klassical Dream has sat atop the Stayers' Hurdle betting prior to the Galmoy Hurdle, but he slipped back to 6/1 fourth-favouritism, behind Champ, Flooring Porter and Thyme Hill.

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