Having spoken to the owners, Pearn’s Pharmacies Ltd, we have taken the decision to scratch Ballyrock from his engagements in the Albert Bartlett and Neptune Investment novice hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival.

Ballyrock had a dirty scope a fortnight ago and though he is absolutely fine now, after working yesterday we felt his fitness levels just won’t be at a sufficient level to justify running him at the Festival. Speaking to timvaughanracing.com this morning, David Pearn of Pearn’s Pharmacies Ltd said “It is obviously very disappointing, but we believe he is a top-class prospect and the welfare of the horse is paramount.”

Though it is certainly disappointing to miss out on Cheltenham, as Ballyrock looked to hold a very solid chance after his fine run in defeat in the Challow Hurdle, he will now be aimed at the Grade 1 Sefton novices’ hurdle at Aintree in April, a race we won last year with Saint Are. Both Ballyrock’s owners and I feel that the course will suit him, he will go there a fresh horse and hopefully can give us a second win in the race.