Annie Power will miss the Cheltenham Festival and could be out for the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury.
The nine-year-old caught the eye at the Festival in 2016 as she became the first Mare in 22 years to claim the Champion Hurdle title.
Annie Power continued her fine form the following month at Aintree, but she has not been seen in competitive action since.
Trainer Willie Mullins revealed last week that she was nearing a return to the track and insisted they were set to target the mares? hurdle at Punchestown on February 22 before heading to Cheltenham.
However, Mullins has now confirmed that a knee injury will prevent Annie Power from travelling to the Festival, while he admitted he is uncertain when she will be seen again.
Mullins said: “It’s disappointing. She worked well yesterday and we were very pleased with her.
“I was away all day yesterday working horses on the Curragh and they told me yesterday evening they weren’t happy with her.
“We just confirmed that this morning – that she has an injury on the other leg, the good leg for want of a better word.
“She’s definitely out of Cheltenham and whether she runs again this season, I don’t know. We’d have to see the extent of it, but I’d probably say not.
“Normally when a horse gets an injury like that we give them a week or 10 days and then reassess and I think that’s what we’ll do.
“She’s going to be a huge loss to us this season.”