Blazing Khal to miss Punchestown and be saved for next season

Charles Byrnes’ Blazing Khal will not be seen at Punchestown and will instead return to action next season after an injury scuppered his raid on the Cheltenham Festival.

The gelding is unbeaten over hurdles after taking his maiden and travelling over to Cheltenham twice earlier in the campaign to win a pair of Grade Two contests and earn himself a place at the head of the market for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

A setback in January prevented him from making a third journey to Prestbury Park in March and connections suggested at the time that Punchestown may become an alternative target, but the decision has now been made to give the horse the remainder of the season off.

“He’s 100 per cent, he’s 100 per cent already but we’ve made a decision that we’re not going to bring him back at all this season,” said Byrnes.

“He’ll miss the rest of the season, we didn’t want to bring him back for just the one race at Punchestown and then have it prove to much or too soon for him.

Blazing Khal after winning the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in December
Blazing Khal after winning the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in December (David Davies/PA)

“We’ll bring him back next season, you’ll see him good and early in the autumn.”

Despite Blazing Khal’s absence Byrnes still hopes to have a handful contenders at the Cheltenham Festival, with the trainer currently holding entries for four of the handicap races.

Doctor Duffy is entered in the Ultima, Poseidon in the Grand Annual, Off You Go in the Plate and The Big Galloper – winner of a good prize at Musselburgh last time out – has been allocated 10st 1lb for the Pertemps Final.

“We’ve got a few entered and hopefully a couple will make it over there,” said Byrnes.

“I think they’ll all nearly get in, but we haven’t made any decisions yet. We’ll see nearer the time.”

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