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|Spirit Son removed from Champion Hurdle betting lists|
Spirit Son, as short as 7/1 third-favourite with some firms in the ante-post market for the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival on March 13, has been removed from the betting list following the news that he has suffered another setback that almost certainly rules him out of being ready to bid for the two-mile hurdling crown, writes Elliot Slater.
Beaten only once in his five-race career, (when a brave runner-up to Al Ferof in last season's Supreme Novices Hurdle), the Michael Buckley-owned six-year-old has not been seen this term after suffering a setback in the autumn that required him to remain out of full training. Nicky Henderson had been very hopeful that the gelded son of Poliglote was on his way back and close to making a belated seasonal reappearance, but a new injury came to light after training on January 20 that requires the horse to be placed on the 'easy list', making it most unlikely that he will be ready either for the Champion Hurdle, or indeed for the Aintree Festival a month later. Even those looking at the Betfair Champion Chase betting will have been disappointed by his removal.
A disappointed Henderson insisted that whether it take two weeks or two years to get Spirit Son back to his best and return a happy and healthy horse, he will do whatever necessary in the best interest of the gelding and won't be rushed into taking any chances at all with this high-quality performer. After running so well at Cheltenham last year Spirit Son went on to race over two-and-a-half miles for the first time and put up a sparkling performance to win the Grade 1 John Smith's Mersey Hurdle by 13-lengths, slamming the smart Cue Card and establishing himself as one of the very best of his generation.
Spirit Son's expected absence from the Champion Hurdle has seen reigning champion Hurricane Fly cut to a best price 15/8 (from 9/4 in places) to retain his title.