Owner Michael O'Leary admits he fears the career of Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack is over after the horse sustained a tendon injury.
The nine-year-old was ruled out of this week's Punchestown Festival due to his tendon issue and while trainer Gordon Elliott remains hopeful of getting his stable star back to the track, O'Leary believes Don Cossack is facing an uphill battle.
O'Leary told The Times: "I fear he has had it. It would be very difficult for him to come back ever.
"Gordon and the team want to bring him back but what will make it extraordinarily difficult is that he is nine. With a tendon you generally have to take a year off and if you do at nine, you come back to a Gold Cup at 10 or 11.
"Horses don't come back (from this sort of injury). He would be running in a Gold Cup at that age with interrupted preparation with his leg. I think it is unlikely, but Gordon will leave no stone unturned.
"That is why I say you should enjoy a Gold Cup when you win one, because very rarely do they ever come back."