Faugheen ruled out of Cheltenham Festival

Last year's Champion Hurdle winner has been beaten just once in 13 runs

Faugheen ruled out of Cheltenham Festival

Niall Carson / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Trainer Willie Mullins today confirmed that Faugheen will not take part in next month's Cheltenham festival.

The 2015 Champion Hurdle winner was an odds-on favourite to defend his title, but has been ruled-out with a ligament injury.

The once-beaten eight-year-old has enjoyed two impressive performances over hurdles in December and January following a shock defeat at the hands of Nichols Canyon at Punchestown in November.

His latest outing at Leopardstown saw him comfortably beat stablemates Arctic Fire and Nichols Canyon.

"When we started back working him this week we discovered he had a sore suspensory and, while it isn't a serious problem, it's come at a bad time and it means we've had to abandon plans to run him in the Champion Hurdle" Mullins told Racing Post.

"It's very disappointing. It's like someone whipping the ace out of the pack, along with all the other cards."

Despite her fall last year at Cheltenham, Annie Power may well be supplemented and bookmakers have already made her 2-1 market favourite.

Arctic Fire (3/1), Nichols Canyon ( 7/2) and Peace & Co (9/1) all shorten in price with the announcement.