Balding had been trying to get the classy seven-year-old fit following a set-back early in the season, but has now admitted defeat. 'The ground has been wrong and we've not been able to get the horse fit. Much to my regret he will not run in the Champion Hurdle,' Balding said.
Wins in the Cordon Bleu Handicap Hurdle at Aintree and the Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock last spring had led to strong support for the gelding for this season's hurdling crown. He was quoted at 12-1 by Hills at the time of his withdrawal.
The news coincided with further backing for Oliver Sherwood's Large Action. Hills cut the six-year-old's odds to 13-2 from 8-1, and Corals to 9-1 from 10-1. Some bookmakers had been offering 40-1 less than a month ago.
Two recent winners in Ireland have been disqualified by the Irish National Hunt Committee after prohibited substances were found in samples. Loaves And Fishes, trained by Norman Cassidy, has been disqualified from first place at Punchestown, and Frank Warren's Friendly Argument has been disqualified from first at Fairyhouse. . Both trainers were fined pounds 250 for negligence.Reuse content