Deflated owner John Snook has expressed his disappointment after Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a tendon injury.
The Colin Tizzard-trained nine-year-old had led the Gold Cup betting after triumphing in his first four starts over fences this season, including victory at the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
“It’s very disappointing, but it’s one of those things that happens with horses,” said Snook, who owns the horse with his wife Heather. “When something like this happens it knocks the stuffing out of you.
“They just found a little bit of heat in his leg and it might be that he feels better in a week or two, but you’d be risking everything if you carried on.”
Thistlecrack is the latest big-name to the forced from the showpiece meeting at Prestbury Park next month, joining the likes of Coneygree, Annie Power and Faugheen on the sidelines.
“Whether it’s JP McManus, Rich Ricci or ourselves, we all want to get our horses to the Festival, but there’s nothing you can do,” added Snook. “Hopefully we still have a horse. We’ve got to stop and we’ll find out where we are in about eight months’ time.”