Willie Mullins' Cheltenham preparations have been dented today with Saldier, Klassical Dream and Douvan all ruled out of the March meeting.
Punters were particularly enthusiastic about Saldier's chances in the Unibet Champion Hurdle after impressing in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown late last year and he was as short as 9-2 for the opening day's feature race.
Following on from a setback that saw him ruled out of the Christmas festive racing, Mullins has confirmed today that Saldier has not progressed enough to take his place at the festival.
Douvan meanwhile looked back to his best in the winter, claiming the Clonmel Oil Chase but Mullins is not fully satisfied with his progress of late so a trip to the Cotswolds for the Betway Champion Chase has been ruled out.
Writing in his Racing Post column, Mullins has said:
"I have to report that both Klassical Dream and Saldier are out of the Unibet Champion Hurdle picture and won't be going to the festival.
"We had to withdraw Klassical Dream from the PCI Irish Champion Hurdle last weekend, but the leg infection he picked up and which looked a minor problem on Friday night has turned out to be a bit more serious and we've decided to leave him alone. Unfortunately, he's going to miss the rest of the season.
"Saldier hasn't progressed well enough since the setback he had after winning the Morgiana Hurdle in November and he won't make the Festival. We'll just have to see how things go and, hopefully, he might make it back for Punchestown.
"It's the same story with Douvan and he, too, won't be going to the Festival where he is entered for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
"He started the season so well when winning the Clonmel Oil Chase in good style in November on his return from a lengthy absence, but he hasn't run since and we're just not happy with him. Whether he'll be right to go to Punchestown remains to be seen."