Espoir D'Allen: Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winner set to miss the season

Espoir D'Allen
Happier times - jockey Mark Walsh after winning the Champion Hurdle

Espoir D'Allen is likely to miss out on a defence of the Champion Hurdle title after an accident at his stables.

The horse won the Cheltenham race in March by a record 15 lengths under Mark Walsh for Irish trainer Gavin Cromwell.

It was an eighth win in the race for owner JP McManus, and only the second five-year-old to triumph in 34 years.

"Unfortunately he reared over when he got spooked on his way back to the yard," said Frank Berry, McManus' racing manager.

"As yet we're not exactly sure, but it looks like he'll be out for the season."

The horse, who has not raced since winning the Champion Hurdle at odds of 16-1, is being assessed at Fethard Equine Hospital in County Tipperary.

"It's a real blow for Gavin and his team who did so well with him last season," added Berry.

"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."

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