CUE Card has been ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival after suffering an injury setback.

The eight-year-old, winner of the Champion Bumper in 2010 and Ryanair Chase last year, seemed set for a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup this time around following success in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and a fine second in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

However, with little more than a fortnight to go, the horse has pulled muscles and Milborne Port trainer Colin Tizzard has had no option but to take him out of the Betfred-sponsored Gold Cup and Ryanair Chase reckoning.

A clearly disappointed Tizzard commented: “Unfortunately, he has pulled muscles behind and he won’t be running at the Cheltenham Festival.

“We first noticed it last week. It was only a small thing then and it is only small now, but we cantered him this morning and he is still not right.

“He hasn’t got any better and you can’t be going to Cheltenham 90 per cent.

“The horse has looked after me for the last four years and it is my turn to look after him now.

“He’s been so good to me and he’s not going to be ready for the Festival.”

Asked whether his stable star could be back in action at the Grand National meeting at Aintree in April, Tizzard said: “Hopefully, but we need to get him right first.''

Favourite for the Gold Cup is reigning champion Bobs Worth, whose trainer Nicky Henderson extended his sympathy to Tizzard and his team