Tragedy strikes Supreme Novice Hurdle favourite Lovethehigherlaw

Lovethehigherlaw, ante-post favourite with a number of firms for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, tragically died on the gallops on Saturday morning whilst being prepared for his first outing over hurdles, writes Elliot Slater.

A particularly exciting prospect for this season having proved himself a high quality bumper performer last term, the Willie Mullins-trained gelding was being talked of as a potentially top-class hurdler having made a winning bumper debut at Fairyhouse in January before meeting his only defeat when second at Limerick in March. The 115,000 guineas purchase then proved that run all wrong when putting up a tremendous performance to get the better of the highly regarded Dermot Weld-trained Waaheb by a short-head in the Grade 1 Champion Bumper at the Punchestown Festival in May, under Patrick Mullins. Those following the ante-post Cheltenham betting odds will know how good a prospect he looked.

Details as to what actually happened on the gallops on Saturday morning have yet to be revealed but Willie Mullins issued a statement expressing his sorrow at losing such a great prospect who had done everything asked of him in his build-up to a planned hurdles debut in the near future. Owned by Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown Stud, Lovethehigherlaw, a gelded son of Presenting, was originally trained by Pat Doyle for whom he won his only outing in a four-year-old maiden point-to-point in February of last year.

Following the removal from the ante-post list of the ill-fated Mullins horse, Waaheb is now generally on offer as 10/1 joint-favourite for the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival with the Jessica Harrington-trained Steps to Freedom, who battled on bravely to deny Prospect Wells by a neck in a Grade 2 event at the Prestbury track on Friday.

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