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Hillcrest ‘fine’ but finished for the season after Cheltenham disappointment

Hillcrest will not run again this season after the 9-4 favourite failed to fire in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The towering seven-year-old was unbeaten in each of his completed starts over hurdles for Henry Daly and had won at the track previously, scoring on New Year’s Day.

Yet one of the leading British hopes for success in a week dominated by Irish-trained horses could not muster a blow in the three-mile Grade One event, won by Willie Mullins-trained The Nice Guy.

Having made a slow start under Richard Patrick, Hillcrest was never happy on the tacky ground and was pulled up on the second circuit.

Daly is still searching for answers and is now looking ahead to next season when he will go novice chasing.

“I’d stop worrying,” said Daly. “He is fine. We are going to take some bloods on Monday and run some tests on him.

“But the plan is to school him over fences while the ground is nice at home and them turn him away for the summer.

“I’m afraid we have found nothing as yet.

“I don’t know what happened. He was never travelling, he never entered the contest and I can’t explain it.

“It was one of those days, maybe he woke up with a headache!

“There is nothing apparent. He just didn’t seem to travel, but he will school over fences and go that route now. That is the plan at the moment.”

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