Leading Gold Cup contender Thistlecrack has been ruled out of competing at the Cheltenham Festival.
So much had been expected of the 10-year-old after his 2016 King George VI Chase victory, but injuries have beset his progress since then.
Kim Tizzard, assistant to trainer Colin told At The Races: “He was a little bit stiff behind after the King George and he’s been off and had X-rays and bone scans – it’s gutting.
“He ran a screamer. He jumped really well and we were getting excited that the old Thistlecrack was still there.
“We were going for the Gold Cup – we’re gutted. Hopefully he’ll have his box rest and come back next season.
“We’re gutted for the team, the owners, everyone. We’ve still got a horse, at the end of the day.”
Might Bite is now the 10-3 (from 7-2) favourite with Coral for the Gold Cup, after Thistlecrack was ruled out of the race.
“Thistlecrack was a 16-1 chance for the Gold Cup following his run in the King George, and had been the subject of some support for Cheltenham following a positive report from connections last week, so his absence is a blow for both connections and punters, while it has also seen Might Bite harden at the head of the betting,” said Coral’s David Stevens.