Abbey worry for Johnson

Howard Johnson revealed yesterday that totesport Gold Cup hope Grey Abbey has met with a setback with the blue riband just over four weeks away.

Howard Johnson revealed yesterday that totesport Gold Cup hope Grey Abbey has met with a setback with the blue riband just over four weeks away.

Unbeaten over fences since being transferred to the County Durham handler from Barry Murtagh, the 11-year-old is as short as 6-1 for the Festival showpiece after romping home in the Pillar Chase at Cheltenham last month.

“He has knocked a joint and we are having it scanned,” said Johnson. “He’s sound when he walks.

"He can go a mile and a half in a straight line no problem but when he stands in his box it fills back up.

“We’ve bought this new hydro spa for him and I think he will come right but everything is up in the air about where we’ll run. There’s the ground and everything else to take into consideration.

“But if the Gold Cup was tomorrow he wouldn’t run in that. You need to be a 110%, not 100%, and I’m not going to risk him anywhere unless we are completely happy with him.”

Grey Abbey has also been allotted top weight in the John Smith’s Grand National, for which he is a general 20-1 chance.

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