Espoir D’Allen to miss Cheltenham Festival

Espoir D’Allen will not run at the Cheltenham Festival after being taken out of both the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

Trainer Gavin Cromwell scratched the four-year-old from both races as he feels he needs more time to recover from a busy first half of the season.

The French import, owned by JP McManus, won his first four starts over hurdles between October and December, but showed the effects of that busy spell when well-beaten in the Grade One Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown earlier this month.

“He’ll be fine. He raced very keen the last day and he bottomed himself out and was a bit quiet for a while,” said Cromwell.

“Cheltenham is going to come too soon and he’s been busy all season. Please god he’ll make one of the other spring festivals later on.”

McManus still has the ante-post favourite for the Triumph in the shape of Apple’s Shakira, trained by Nicky Henderson.

Cromwell is still hoping to represented at the showpiece fixture by the McManus-owned Jer’s Girl, who is reported to be on course for Cheltenham following a mid-season break.

The six-year-old could have three entries including the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, in which she fell three flights from home last season when still travelling well.

“She’s in the mares, she’s in the Stayers’ Hurdle and she’ll probably have an entry in the Coral Cup,” said the Navan-based trainer.

“I don’t know at this stage which race we’ll go for. I’ll have a chat with Frank (Berry, owner’s racing manager).

“She’s in great order. I’m happy with her.”