Two-time Cheltenham Foxhunter winner will not defend title

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  • Salsify, twice winner of the Foxhunter at the Cheltenham Festival, will not bid for what would be an unprecedented third victory in the race next month.

    The 11-year-old’s trainer Rodger Sweeney has admitted he had run out of time to get another run into the horse ahead of the March 1 qualification deadline for the St James’s Place Foxhunter.

    The horse will instead be aimed at the Crabbie’s Fox Hunters’ at Aintree in April.

    Salsify, winner of the hunter chasing showpiece in 2012 and 2013, had appeared a step closer to this year’s race when successful at Fairyhouse last Saturday (20 February). It was his first win since his success in the champion hunter chase at the Punchestown Festival three years ago and Sweeney had initially identified a choice of point-to-point options this weekend in an attempt to seal qualification.

    However, today (Tuesday, 23 February), Rodger revealed he had abandoned those hopes.

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    “He’s come out of his Fairyhouse race quite well but we’ve decided against pushing him and we’re going to give Cheltenham a miss,” said Rodger.

    “Had he finished second and not third on his comeback at Leopardstown early this month we’d be in a different position as he would be qualified for the Cheltenham race.”

    Salsify had been as low as 8-1 for the Foxhunter. Bookmaker Paddy Power immediately announced they were refunding all ante-post bets on the horse.

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