One of National Hunt’s biggest stars Altior needs surgery on a wind problem which rules him out of the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in December.
The winner of the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham earlier this year, the seven-year-old is odds on favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the festival next year.
The Tingle Creek was part of the preparations pencilled in by trainer Nicky Henderson, but he will now be sidelined until the New Year.
Speaking to his bookmaking partners Unibet, Henderson is still optimistic his star turn can recover in time for the festival.
He said: “Whether we are able to fit in a prep race we don’t know and only time will tell, I certainly wouldn’t want to speculate.
“We can have racecourse gallops if we need too, but Altior will have a month’s box rest and we’ll go from there. His health is our only priority.
“We have the best advisers and surgeons ready to go and we intend to have this remedied as soon as possible, perhaps even tomorrow.
“The timing is brutal and it’s tough for us all and I was only saying last week how you need luck in this game to keep all the big boys going. Sadly for us, luck has run out temporarily.
“The good news is that this horse doesn’t have to retire and he will be back, make no mistake about it.”