Leg injury rules Sublimity out of Champion Hurdle
Sublimity has been ruled out of the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle due to a leg injury.
The 10-year-old claimed the hurdling crown three years ago and was fourth and 15th in the two subsequent renewals at the Cheltenham Festival.
He had appeared to be back on top form this term, being placed in three Grade One outings, but a late setback means trainer Robbie Hennessy has had to call time for this season.
He said: "He's got a suspensory injury. It's just a knock and it's hard to really know how he did it -- it could have been rolling around in his box, getting cast or in a routine gallop.
"He's lame and the vets have told us he needs three months' rest so he won't be back this season.
"We're all gutted here. It's a shame as he had a really good gallop at Leopardstown last week.
"He's been in good form and running well all year and the ground was just starting to coming right for us."
Sublimity had been as low as 12/1 to land a second Champion Hurdle crown tomorrow week.
King heads Ferdy's dozen
Ferdy Murphy is hoping 12 will prove to be his lucky number as he puts the finishing touches to his Cheltenham Festival team.
The Leyburn handler is planning to send a dozen runners to Prestbury Park as he bids to add to his tally of eight winners at the four-day jumping highlight.
Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase hope Kalahari King heads Murphy's team as he makes the trip to Cheltenham for a third successive year.
The nine-year-old finished fourth in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in 2008 and was just touched off in last season's Arkle.
"He is in very good form and we will take him to the beach somewhere this coming week," said Murphy.
"We have 12 horses going down there, we have had eight Festival winners and plenty of near misses."
Away from the headline act, Murphy has the likes of the well-supported The Hollinwell to look forward to in the Jewson Novices' Handicap Chase, while Galant Nuit, who was due to run in last week's cancelled Eider Chase, is in line for the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.
Murphy added: "The Hollinwell will go for the Jewson and I think Watch My Back will run in the handicap (Byrne Group Plate). Galant Nuit will go for the Kim Muir and Elzahann may get in the Pertemps Final."
Air Force 'fine' after fall
Air Force One remains on target for the Powers Whiskey Irish Grand National despite his early departure at Doncaster on Saturday.
Trainer Charlie Mann had been hoping to get a good prep run into his eight-year-old in the Grimthorpe Chase but he parted company with Paul Moloney at the third fence on Town Moor.
Mann is still looking towards Fairyhouse on April 5 for Air Force One, who was a Grade One winner at Punchestown two years ago, but testing ground in Ireland would see the Lambourn trainer readjust his sights.
He said: "He's fine this morning. What happened was a pity as we were really happy with him and expecting a good run. We are still looking at the Irish National and I think that is where he will go unless the ground is too soft.
"If it comes up very soft there, we might look at the English National but hopefully he will go to Ireland and then onto the Bet 365 Gold Cup."
Weather lift for Building
John Quinn believes the recent improvement in the weather can only aid the chances of Character Building in the William Hill Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.
Winner of the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the meeting last March, the 10-year-old has the Grand National at Aintree as his ultimate aim.
"He's grand at the moment, he's in great nick and will run on the first day of the Festival in the William Hill," said Quinn. "It might be stretching it a bit to think he can win there two years in a row but you never know.
"The ground drying out is right up his street."