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Willie Mullins hammer blow as Cheltenham Festival hero and Gold Cup fav Monkfish ruled out for season and Min retired

WILLIE MULLINS has been dealt a hammer blow with Cheltenham Festival superstar Monkfish ruled out for the season.

A huge fancy for next year’s Gold Cup, the seven-year-old has suffered a campaign-ending tendon injury.

Cheltenham Festival superstar Monkfish has been ruled out for the season through injury

The crack Irish trainer also announced Min, a seven-time Grade 1 winner, has been retired at the age of ten.

Both horses are owned by banker Rich Ricci, a larger-than-life character who still bought lottery tickets despite being worth £100million.

SunSport told you last May how Ricci’s other trio of superstars Faugheen, Douvan and Benie Des Dieux had all been retired.

Monkfish was a general 6-1 shot and joint-favourite alongside Minella Indo for next year’s Gold Cup.

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He decimated the field when winning this year’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase by six-and-a-half-lengths under Paul Townend.

That was his seventh straight win – but he suffered his first defeat over fences when beaten eight lengths by Colreevy in Punchestown’s Champion Novice Chase on his last start in April.

Mullins told sportinglife.com: “Unfortunately he has an issue with a tendon and it requires the season off.”

Monkfish had already amassed earnings of £295,325 from just ten starts under rules, never finishing worse than second.

Min had already been ruled out until after Christmas after having surgery on a hind leg in August.

Mullins said: “He suffered an injury in this year’s Ryanair which we operated on.

“We were hoping to get him back for this season but unfortunately it hasn’t come right for racing but he’s heading to a very good home to make an excellent riding horse for them.”

Min won 12 of his 24 races, including the 2020 Ryanair Chase, finished second six times and earned connections £966,873.

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