Samcro has been ruled out of a return to the Cheltenham Festival next week by trainer Gordon Elliott.
An impressive winner of last year’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, things have not gone to plan since and he was found to be suffering a lung infection after finishing fifth in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Reports of late had been more upbeat, but while Elliott had been considering a step up to three miles for the Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle having already ruled out a crack at the Champion Hurdle, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned seven-year-old will now bypass the meeting entirely.
The trainer told his Betfair blog: “Unfortunately we are going to have to skip Cheltenham with Samcro. He’s in very good form and I am pleased with how he has been doing in his work over the last few weeks.
“However, Cheltenham is just going to come a week or two too soon.
“At the best of times you’ve got to be absolutely spot on for Cheltenham and while Samcro is in very good shape myself, Michael and Eddie (O’Leary) feel that the right thing to do by horse is to give him more time.
There is every chance that Samcro could run again this season and there are a range of suitable races for him at those meetings so hopefully we will see him back in action next month.
Samcro has long seen as a potential star over fences - and Elliott confirmed he will go chasing next season.
He added: “Looking further ahead, we are looking forward to when he goes chasing in the autumn.”
Nicky Henderson meanwhile remains “very hopeful” of leading fancy Santini overcoming a late scare to make the line-up for the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
The seven-year-old has won one of his two starts over fences this term, finishing third behind star mare La Bague Au Roi when upped to Grade One company on Boxing Day.
Off the track since that run, Henderson opted to take Santini for a racecourse gallop at Newbury on Sunday, but he pulled off a shoe in the process and is now battling to be fit for the RSA on the second day of the Festival.
Henderson tweeted on Tuesday afternoon: “Unfortunately Santini is still rather sore on his near-fore foot as a result of losing a shoe on Sunday and is quite lame.
“He has exercised on the treadmill this morning and the foot was re-poulticed afterwards.
“It is extremely frustrating and we are monitoring the situation, but are obviously still very hopeful of making the RSA.
“His shoe will go back on tomorrow and it’s a day by day process but we’ll keep you updated accordingly.”