Nicky Henderson says he is "shattered" by the news that reigning champion hurdler Binocular would not be at Cheltenham to defend his crown tomorrow.
Henderson's seven-year-old was treated for an allergy two weeks ago but having administered a stablemate with the same treatment only to subsequently see him fail a drug test, the Seven Barrows master contacted the British Horseracing Authority to see if the same thing would happen.
Unfortunately for all concerned with the horse, the BHA confirmed that if Binocular did indeed run in the Champion Hurdle, he would also test positive.
The news, understandably, left Henderson devastated. "We are all obviously shattered but I am particularly upset for JP (McManus, owner) who has been incredibly understanding as I know how much this horse means to him," said Henderson.
"I would very much like to sympathise with all Binocular's supporters and punters who may have backed him ante-post. In a statement Henderson added: "We have very regretfully had to decide not to declare Binocular for Tuesday's Champion Hurdle.
"He had an allergy two weeks ago that did not respond to initial medication and on veterinary advice and well within normal parameters he required a further treatment the following day.
"As we were getting close to the most important race of the year and also because since that administration to Binocular, another horse had tested positive for the same substance, I thought it prudent to take a precautionary test which not only surprisingly, let alone devastatingly, has also shown to be positive.
"We have therefore reluctantly had to take the BHA's advice this morning that the only reasonable course in everybody's interest is not to confirm the entry and he has consequently been withdrawn from the Champion Hurdle."
The BHA explained the course of events that eventually led to the horse's withdrawal in a statement which read: "The Authority received an elective test request from Nicky Henderson this week. The results of those tests came through on Thursday and Binocular had a screening finding for a legitimate veterinary medication.
"We all wanted to give Binocular every chance to run, both from a connections point of view and also thinking of those that had backed him for the Champion Hurdle, therefore over the weekend HFL tested further samples.
"The results of those tests were still positive. We advised Nicky Henderson and his vets of this result on Saturday night and, bearing in mind that against expectations the levels of the substance were remaining constant, the clear advice was that Binocular would test positive on raceday.
"We were informed following a further conference call with connections this morning that they had therefore decided not to declare the horse."