Champion hero 'Espoir' set to miss season
Gavin Cromwell has suffered a "massive blow" for the new jumps season with reigning Champion Hurdle hero Espoir D'Allen facing a long spell on the sidelines after suffering an accident on his Meath gallops.
The JP McManus-owned five-year-old - a brilliant winner of the hurdling showpiece at Cheltenham in March - is unlikely to defend his crown due to a shoulder injury.
Having only recently returned from his summer break, hopes were high that Espoir D'Allen would be bigger and better this season but he is "very lame and sore" in Fethard Equine Hospital after a nasty spill.
"Last Thursday he had done a little canter and coming back in off the gallop he got spooked, reared up and fell over," Cromwell told the 'Racing Post'. "We still haven't found what's wrong with him.
"It looks like he is going to be out for the season. He got a slap off the ground and the issue seems to be around his shoulder, but they are still trying to pin it down. He is very lame and sore on his right front side and he hasn't improved since going there.
"They are still doing tests on him to try and find the problem and the vets don't seem very optimistic of him making a speedy recovery. It's a massive blow for everybody in the yard."
Meanwhile, the Listed Hurry Harriet Stakes (6.50) is the highlight of this evening's eight-race card at Gowran Park where Ger Lyons' Who's Steph will take all the beating.
Colin Keane's mount is forced to concede weight to her 14 rivals in the €55,000 contest having already scored at Group Three level this year but she looked better than ever when landing the Munster Oaks in June.
Aidan O'Brien's Goddess ran a career best when second in a Curragh Group Two last month and is the most likely challenger but Who's Steph should have the class to score.