Noel Meade is heartbroken that injury has ruled out his smart novice hurdler Ned Buntline for the rest of the season.
The County Meath trainer spoke about the five-year-old in glowing terms after his impressive display in a Naas bumper in early November and he has made a fine start to his career over obstacles, with a Leopardstown win sandwiched by two sound placed efforts.
He was third behind Mozoltov and Don Cossack in last weekend's Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown, after which the season-ending injury was discovered.
Meade said: "He pulled up lame after he ran at Punchestown the other day and it transpired he had a tiny crack at the tip of his splint bone.
"It's not career threatening or anything like that, but it is heartbreaking as we were really looking forward to seeing him run in the big novice races this spring.
"Unfortunately time is against us as, by the time we get him right, the season will be nearly over, so we'll look forward to next season with him now.
"He's a big horse, well over 17 hands, so a bit of time isn't going to do him any harm anyway. Whether he'll stay over hurdles or jump a fence next season, I wouldn't have a clue at this stage. We'll think about that when the time comes."