CUE Card has been sidelined for the rest of the season after it was discovered he has suffered a minor stress fracture of the pelvis.
Milborne Port trainer Colin Tizzard ruled his stable star out of the Cheltenham Festival last week with what was thought to be pulled muscles, with further investigation revealing the underlying problem.
A dual Festival winner having claimed the Champion Bumper in 2010 and the Ryanair Chase last year, the eight-year-old appeared bound 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.
“It’s only small. We sent him up to Newbury for a bone scan,” Tizzard told Racing UK.
“We were getting nowhere. When we said he wasn’t going to run (at Cheltenham) we stopped riding him then. The week before that one day he’d be sound and the next he wasn't.
“We said it must be muscle – the physio said it was muscle, the vet said it was muscle, so we assumed that’s what it was.
"It’s a good job we did what we did. If we had given him a spin on a good day, God knows what could have happened.
''It's only a small fracture and the prognosis is a month in the box, then the walker and hack round for three weeks then he'll go out in the field and we'll have him back at the normal time for next season.
''It's a gut wrencher really. You try to say it's only a horse and there are worse things in life, but expectations were high for all of us. We've had some brilliant days with him and hopefully we can have a few more.''