Grandouet will miss out on Champion Hurdle outing

Grandouet will not run in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, trainer Nicky Henderson confirmed.

Henderson’s five-year-old gelding will not recover in time for the two-mile feature on March 13 after having undergone surgery on an infected hind fetlock joint on Tuesday evening.

Henderson said: “We’ve had a long discussion with the vets and his owner, Simon Munir.

“The horse has made further progress this morning, but we feel it is unrealistic to expect him to be able to work this weekend.

“This would undoubtedly be a very interrupted preparation, so we have decided that in everybody’s interest it is better to decide now that he will not run in the Champion Hurdle.”

Grandouet has won his last two races, including the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December, and was prominent in all ante-post lists for the Champion Hurdle.

However, Henderson’s Grade One winner was a late withdrawal from last Saturday’s Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton having banged his leg in his box on Thursday night.

The news comes as a second Champion Hurdle blow to Henderson, who was forced to rule out Spirit Son in January.

Binocular, the 2010 Champion Hurdle hero who was a winning deputy for Grandouet in the Kingwell, is the remaining aspirant from the Seven Barrows yard.

Henderson added: “You can’t go into a race of this calibre with such an interrupted preparation.

“It’s only fair to the horse, the owner and the betting public that we make this unwelcome decision.

“I think it’s best to make this decision now and all grey is taken out of the situation.

“As to whether he will run again this season, we will see.

“He’s an out-and-out two-miler so therefore Aintree isn’t a realistic option, but we will discuss that at a later date.

“Three weeks ago we were sitting on Grandouet, Spirit Son and Binocular, and three have suddenly become one.”