Thistlecrack joins high-profile list of Cheltenham casualties
So many stars have fallen by the wayside ahead of next month’s headline event at Prestbury Park
Faugheen (Champion Hurdle)
A stress fracture finally put paid to any chance of Faugheen trying to repeat his Champion Hurdle success of 2015 after several niggly problems had kept him off the track since he won the Irish equivalent in January 2016.
Annie Power (Champion Hurdle)
Last year’s Champion Hurdle heroine was nearing a possible return to action when she suffered a leg injury forcing trainer Willie Mullins to scrap plans for the defence of her crown, and perhaps the rest of the campaign.
Min (Arkle Trophy)
In the whole scheme of things a bruise is extremely minor, but one has come at the wrong time for Min. His proposed rematch with Altior, who beat him in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, is now off the agenda.
Thistlecrack (Gold Cup)
Favourite for the blue riband event from a pretty early stage this season, Thistlecrack won each of his three novice starts before graduating to full company with a scintillating success in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day. He had to give best to the ill-fated Many Clouds on his final prep run at Cheltenham last month, but a tendon problem has derailed his Gold Cup bid.
Don Cossack (Gold Cup)
Gordon Elliott had to call time on Don Cossack’s career last month after the 2016 Gold Cup hero sustained a recurrence of a tendon injury when back in training with a view to a bid for a repeat triumph.
Coneygree (Gold Cup)
Mark and Sara Bradstock decided not to enter Coneygree for this year’s Gold Cup as the 2015 winner had not recovered sufficiently from the problem that ruled him out of the King George.
Many Clouds (Gold Cup)
The Hennessy Gold Cup and Grand National winner had just beaten Thistlecrack to claim a second victory in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January when tragedy struck, as the Oliver Sherwood-trained 10-year-old collapsed shortly after the line. British Horseracing Authority (BHA) officials ascertained the sudden death was due to a “severe pulmonary haemorrhage”.
Simonsig (Gold Cup)
Nicky Henderson’s grey, fatally injured in November, won eight races from 13 starts under Rules in a truncated career that was continually thwarted by fitness issues. Winner of the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2012, he then struck gold in the Arkle Trophy a year later. Simonsig was sidelined by injury since that final Festival success and only returned to the track at Aintree in November 2015, after which he only raced three more times.
Sprinter Sacre (Champion Chase)
The tip-top chaser was retired after picking up a leg injury in November. He suffered an irregular heartbeat at the end of 2013 that kept him on the sidelines for well over a year, yet Nicky Henderson and his team had worked wonders to get the 2013 winner to win the showpiece again in 2016.
Valseur Lido (Ryanair/Gold Cup)
Henry de Bromhead’s charge made quite an impression in winning a Down Royal Grade One by 11 lengths on his seasonal bow, but he could miss the rest of the season after sustaining an injury on the gallops last month.
Ar Mad (Champion Chase/Ryanair)
Gary More decided not to rush Ar Mad back into action at the Festival, where he had a couple of options, after a setback forced the seven-year-old to bypass the Betfair Ascot Chase. He now has Aintree or Punchestown on his agenda.