Paul Nicholls has been forced to rule his classy chaser Topofthegame out for another season.
Winner of the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in 2019, Nicholls had high hopes he would develop into a Gold Cup contender last season.
However, as his preparation for last year’s Ladbrokes Trophy was stepping up a gear he was halted by a leg injury.
While the problem was nothing too serious, Nicholls felt a year on the sidelines would give him the best chance of returning this season – with the Ladbrokes Trophy again his aim – in tip-top shape.
Unfortunately, with the Newbury feature just weeks away, the eight-year-old has been ruled out again.
“I’ve scratched him from the Betfair (Chase) and Ladbrokes Trophy as I’ve just had to draw stumps for the season with him,” said Nicholls on Monday.
“The warning lights have been flashing for the last couple of weeks. I was not happy with him last week and we had the vet scan him today and although there is no tear he just needs more time to recover, so we will leave him for the rest of the season and get him back for next season.
“He had the tendon injury last season and he is still not strong enough to do full training. If we had carried on he would have broken down, but as we have stopped there is a good chance we will get him back for next season.
“We had done everything can, but when the warning lights come on you simply have to stop and after having him scanned this morning it confirmed what myself and Clifford (Baker) thought.”
The Betfair ambassador added: “It’s part and parcel of the game and he was always going to be difficult as he is so fragile, but hopefully we will get him back for another day. We have lots of other horses for these races, but I’m gutted for his owners.”