Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack ruled out for rest of season
Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack has been ruled out for the remainder of the season having suffered a slight tendon tear, trainer Colin Tizzard has announced.
Meanwhile Connections of Bristol De Mai are putting a line through his lifeless run in the Denman Chase and heading for the Cheltenham Gold Cup after a valid reason emerged for the disappointing effort.
Having been so impressive at Haydock in the Peter Marsh Chase, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained grey finished last of three to Hennessy Gold Cup and Welsh National hero Native River at Newbury.
However, he was found to be lame the day after, having knocked a joint, which also had a cut.
"The day after he ran Nigel reported he was very lame," said Anthony Bromley, racing manager to owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. "He gave his near-fore joint a whack and it took him a few days to get over it, but he was cantering again at the weekend.
"He also got a cut on the same joint and Daryl (Jacob) said that very early on he knew he wasn't travelling and he didn't feel like the same horse.
"I think there was a combination of factors, Haydock probably took more out of him than we thought and he may have hurt himself jumping the first as he landed very steeply.
"We don't think it was his true running, he didn't jump like he can so we think he has a valid excuse.
"We're under no illusions, he'll be going to the Gold Cup as an outsider but it looks like being a big field and where else can you go with a horse with his rating?
"Nigel thinks he can get him back to where he was at Haydock and we'll roll the dice."
Native River was ridden by Aidan Coleman at Newbury, with regular partner Richard Johnson watching from the sidelines through illness.
But the champion jockey will be back on board next month and feels he is on the right horse in the Gold Cup.