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Celestial Halo out of Long Walk Hurdle with foot infection

Celestial Halo will miss the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday due to a foot infection. The winner of the Triumph Hurdle back in 2008, he was second in the Champion Hurdle in 2009 and chased home Solwhit in the World Hurdle in March.

His official rating has remained around the 160 mark for several seasons and looked as good as ever when skipping clear at Newbury in the Long Distance Hurdle. The race was notable for a catastrophic mistake from the favourite At Fishers Cross.

The Rebecca Curtis-trained gelding is one of the front-runners for the World Hurdle this season but lost all chance when all but unseating Barry Geraghty two from home. The jockey wisely eased him down to come home in fourth after that incident and believes that he may have won but for the error.

Daryl Jacob is of the opposite opinion and felt that Celestial Halo had already taken the favourite’s measure. Trainer Paul Nicholls has already indicated that Jacob will set out to make the running again at Ascot.

Tony McCoy returns to the saddle on At Fishers Cross, the pair having been unbeaten in six starts last season culminating in victories at Cheltenham and Liverpool. Although the Albert Bartlett form is not working out particularly well, he did beat The New One off level weights in a Grade 2 race and that horse is currently favourite for the Champion Hurdle.

Last year’s winner Reve De Sivola was ahead of At Fishers Cross at Newbury but was already struggling when the market leader made his mistake. If McCoy can get his mount hurdling more fluently, he will hope to sit on the tail of the front pair and strike in the closing stages.

Paul Webber’s smart chaser Time For Rupert makes his return from a leg injury. He was runner-up in the World Hurdle in 2010 whilst Celestial Halo’s stable companion Salubrious has been running consistently for Paul Nicholls.