The Arkle is shaping up to be one of the key Cheltenham betting races of the entire season but it could be shorn of one of its key contenders.
Willie Mullins has announced that Cilaos Emery is a doubt for the Arkle after he picked up a muscle injury. The 7-year-old picked up the setback during a schooling session at Navan last week and it could rule the horse out of his big target.
A Grade 1 winning novice hurdler, Cilaos Emery impressed on chase debut at Gowran Park last month and had been expected to take a high order at Cheltenham as a result.
It was an impressive first start over fences for a horse who had been off the track for 391 days and his absence would be as blow for a Mullins team which is perhaps heading over to England looking weaker than in previous years.
The Closutton handler is going to give the horse a week to get over the injury but the Arkle prospect is now looking unlikely to take up his expected engagement.
The Irish Champion trainer made the comments during his pre-Cheltenham media day on Wednesday with the great and good of the press heading to one of the most famous yards in the sport.
In other news, the trainer confirmed that Benie Des Dieux is on track to defend her crown in the mares hurdle on the first day of the Prestbury Park spectacular with the Rich Ricci owned animal set to go to the contest first time out.