Leading JCB Triumph Hurdle contender French Aseel has been ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival after suffering a setback.

The four-year-old made a huge impression on his Irish debut for Ellmarie Holden at Leopardstown over the Christmas period, with his 22-length victory prompting Al Boum Photo's owners Joe and Marie Donnelly to to snap him up and add him to their Festival team.

With connections deciding against running at last month’s Dublin Racing Festival, French Aseel was due to make his first start for Willie Mullins in the Cotswolds on Friday week.

However, the winning-most trainer in Festival history has confirmed he will not be part of his formidable travelling squad.

"French Aseel has met with a setback and won’t make Cheltenham," Mullins told www.sportinglife.com.