Nicky Henderson has withdrawn Top Notch from the Ryanair Chase in next week’s Cheltenham Festival.

The seven-year-old has raced at the Festival twice before, in the Champion Hurdle in 2015 and the JLT Novices’ Chase last year – a race he came second in.

However, he will not have the chance to hit the course again at Prestbury Park this year, with people around the horse feeling like he’s far from his best.

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Henderson posted a statement to his Twitter account, which said the following:

Sadly we have had to pull Top Notch out of Cheltenham and he will not run in the Ryanair Chase.

We have to conclude that his run in the Ascot Chase last time was slightly disappointing and Sarah Shreeve, who rides him every single day, and knows the horse inside out, said she felt he’s been a bit too quiet and isn’t his usual perky self so we have made the decision to skip Cheltenham.

Henderson too realised something wasn’t right:

I had to do a little piece of work with him yesterday in preparation for the Ryanair and compared to his usual style it wasn’t up to scratch as we all know him so well and if he is trying to tell us something we must take note.

It is important to point out that there is absolutely nothing physically or clinically wrong with him but you have to go to these race meetings in A1 shape, therefore I think it is better to leave him out of Cheltenham and focus on the likes of Aintree, Sandown and quite possibly France later in the season where there are plenty of options.