Photo: Emma-Louise Kerwin (Goodtosoft.co.uk)
2013 Champion Chase winner Sprinter Sacre was ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival by his trainer Nicky Henderson on Sunday evening.
Having gone through a highly publicised recuperation from an irregular heartbeat which saw the previously unbeaten steeplechaser pulled up in his seasonal reappearance, Sprinter Sacre was reported to be lacking the 'same brilliance as last season' by Henderson.
An exceptional winner of last season's Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Sprinter Sacre had been reportedly recovering well from his irregular heartbeat, with Henderson stating on Wednesday evening that he was pleased with a recent work carried out by the French bred star.
However, despite the recuperation of Seven Barrows' star going to plan, the lack of exuberance has seemingly triggered Henderson to place all plans on hold until next season - despite Aintree and Punchestown remaining remote possibilities.
The news on Sprinter Sacre becomes the latest in a line of unfortunate occurances for Henderson this season, who had already lost 2013 Arkle Trophy hero, Simonsig, for the season through injury and remains a considerable distance behind Paul Nicholls in the National Hunt Trainers' Championship - a title many had all but handed to him before the season had begun taking into account the plethora of aces he held.
Paddy Power were first to price up the Queen Mother Champion Chase market after the news, installing Sire De Grugy - Sprinter Sacre's conqueror in December - as the new 5/4 market leader.
Sprinter Sacre was subject to a significant drift on the exchange market, Betfair, prior to the publicising of his withdrawal from this season's Cheltenham Festival.