Sunday 29 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Ryan Byrne/INPHO Paul Townend celebrates on board Ferny Hollow.
# Racing
Ferny Hollow suffers season-ending injury, Punchestown meeting in doubt
Galopin Des Champs is one of seven declared for the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase but the fixture is in severe doubt.

CHAMPION CHASE HOPEFUL Ferny Hollow has been ruled out for the season with a hind tendon injury.

The news comes as another blow to Willie Mullins and owners Cheveley Park Stud, who are also having to be patient with dual Ryanair Chase winner Allaho this season.

Ferny Hollow turns eight on New Year’s Day but has only made the racecourse seven times in his life, although his ability has never been questioned.

Winner of the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in 2020, he beat Bob Olinger on his only start over hurdles the following season before being ruled out for the remainder of that campaign.

He returned after 380 days off the track to win on his chasing debut at Punchestown and three weeks later landed a Grade One at Leopardstown, only for another injury to scupper the rest of last season.

Due to run in the Fortria Chase last month, Mullins took him out on account of the ground and now he is set for a prolonged spell on the sidelines once again.

Cheveley Park’s managing director Richard Thompson told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast: “It’s a hind tendon. Willie was obviously starting to work him a bit harder if he was to run over the Christmas period and he obviously couldn’t take it.

“It’s a real shame obviously. We were really looking forward to him coming out, but we always felt with Ferny he was delicate and therefore it wasn’t a home run to get him back on the course.”

Thompson also provided an update on Allaho, who was ruled out of the first half of the season.

“The last time I spoke to Willie, I think we’re still hopeful of him coming back for a run before Cheltenham and then Cheltenham itself.

“He had six weeks off and that is coming to a close soon, but with all these things you’ve got to be realistic and it is probably 50-50. I’d love to see him have another tilt at the Ryanair and try to win it for a third time.”

Meanwhile Willie Mullins faces an anxious weekend with Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs declared at Punchestown and Champion Chase hero Energumene set to run at Cork – if the meetings survive the cold weather.

willie-mullins-with-galopin-des-champs Morgan Treacy / INPHO Willie Mullins with Galopin Des Champs. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Galopin Des Champs is one of seven declared for the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase but the fixture is in severe doubt.

Clerk of the course Brendan Sheridan has called an inspection for 12 noon on Saturday due to overnight snow and frost and the course is currently unraceable, with severe cold weather forecast.

Mullins also runs National Hunt Chase winner Stattler and Haut En Couleurs, who has had five of his six runs since joining Mullins in Grade One company and will be in at the highest level again.

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Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’Oudairies is the main market rival to Galopin Des Champs.

The JP McManus-owned seven-year-old is a multiple Grade One winner and will be having his first start of the season.

Gordon Elliott’s Fury Road, French Dynamite for Mouse Morris and the Gavin Cromwell-trained Vanillier complete the field.

Mullins has also declared Appreciate It to make his debut over fences in the William Hill Beginners Chase later on the card.

Cork’s meeting also must pass a 12 noon inspection on Saturday with Energumene, who is due to be ridden by Sean O’Keeffe, one of five declared for the Bar One Racing Hilly Way Chase.

He will be taken on by Master McShee, Born By The Sea, Epson Du Houx and Fastorslow in the Grade Two.

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