Reigning Champion Hurdle winner Espoir D’Allen is unlikely to run in the 2019-20 National Hunt season following a freak accident at home.
The five-year-old, whop only returned to Gavin Cromwell’s yard from his summer holidays just over a week ago, has won eight of his nine starts over hurdles.
He enjoyed his finest hour at the Cheltenham Festival in March when romping to 15-length victory over Melon in the opening day showpiece.
That was a record winning margin for the Grade 1 two-mile contest, but he is now in Fethard Equine Hospital undergoing tests following a fall when returning to the yard from the gallops last week. Owner JP McManus’ racing manager Frank Berry said: “Unfortunately he reared over when he got spooked on his way back to the yard last week.
“He’s at Fethard and they are thoroughly checking him over. As yet we’re not exactly sure, but it looks like he’ll be out for the season. Hopefully we’ll know a bit more by the end of the week.
“It’s a real blow for Gavin and his team who did so well with him last season. I suppose if there’s any saving grace in all this, it is that he’s only a five-year-old, he’s young enough to be given plenty of time.”
Espoir D’allen has been as short as 3/1 and ante post favourite to retain his Champion Hurdle crown. Bookmakers have reacted swiftly and the Willie Mullins-trained Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Klassical Dream now heads to betting at a top priced 4/1 with Betftred. McManus’s 2017 and 2018 Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air is next best in the betting at 7/1 with Coral. Triumph Hurdle winner Pentland Hills is third in at 12/1 with Paddy Power and it’s 16/1 bar.
Dual Festival winner On The Fringe to race on at 15
Two-time Cheltenham Foxhunter winner On The Fringe is set to race on at the age of 15 in the 2019/20 season.
The JP MvManus owned veteran raised the roof with a 14th career success in a hunter chase at the Listowel Festival in June when last seen in action.
Many thought that we would be the last race for the hugely popular 2015 and 2016 Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, but Bolger reports him to be in fine fettle and set to race on.
He told At The Races: “On The Fringe looks a million dollars. Mr McManus saw him the other day and actually commented to me how well he looks. He’s an incredible horse. Why would we retire him? He’s full of himself and loving life. He would be bored out in a field if we did retire him.
“If it was the right thing to do JP would be the first to pull up stumps, but his legs are great and his wind is as clear as a whistle. There is plenty of juice left in him yet.”
He added: “I’d say we’ll bring him back to action after Christmas and look at a point-to-point for him first before heading on to Killarney and Listowel again. That is what we are thinking at the moment.”
On The Fringe has earned almost a quarter of a million euros in prize-money in his illustrious career.
Top Irish Trainer Elliott Snaps up Two Unexposed Pointers
Irish handler Gordon Elliott was among the jumps trainers in attendance at the Goffs UK August Sale in Doncaster snapped up two bright and unexposed prospects to add to his huge Cullentra House Stables team.
He purchased The Bosses Oscar for £75,000 and Geraldo at a cost of £66,000.
The Bosses Oscar, who was offered by Denis Murphy’s Ballyboy Stables, remains a maiden after two starts in irish points, but shaped with bags of promise in finishing third and second.
He is a big rangy four-year-old and looks sure to win races in the 2019/20 season. Geraldo won his sole start in a four-year-old maiden point at Stowlin in May when coming from off the pace under Derek O’Connor and staying on strongly to score by a neck in what was a decent time for the grade.