Laurina to miss Cheltenham on Saturday due to ground concerns

Laurina, who had been favourite for Saturday's Grade 2 Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham, will miss the race because of unsuitable ground, her trainer Willie Mullins revealed on Thursday.

The ground had been good, good to soft in places, but was changed on Thursday to good.

Mullins said: “It's because of the ground situation at Cheltenham and the dry forecast.”

The trainer added that he had no firm plan for Laurina, who has options over the festive period at Kempton, Leopardstown and Cheltenham. 

Laurina was unbeaten in four starts over hurdles last season, when she won the Grade 2 Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival by 18 lengths and then the Grade 1 mares' novice hurdle at the Fairyhouse Easter festival.

In her absence Summerville Boy assumed favouritism for the International Hurdle at 9-4 with Betfair Sportsbook and Paddy Power.

Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse said on Thursday afternoon: "After a dry but coldish day, with a mixture of cloud and sunshine, the going on all three courses is now good.

"It was already good on the cross-country course, but the good to soft in places we had on both the chase and hurdles courses have now pretty well gone.

"We're not anticipating any rainfall until some time on Saturday – possibly before racing commences – and my forecast suggests a mixture of cloud and sunshine tomorrow afternoon.

"There could be a low sun issue, but we maintain a programme of not running chases during the vulnerable period and, short of starting racing at 11am, we have no other choices."

There were 15 declarations on Thursday for Saturday's Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. Rather Be is general 100-30 favourite, ahead of BetVictor Gold Cup winner Baron Alco and Frodon, the mount of Bryony Frost. That trio head the weights for the £130,000 handicap chase.