The seasonal reappearance of the top-class Sir Gerhard has been further delayed after suffering injury.
The 2021 Champion Bumper winner was one of the star performers in the novice hurdling division last season, winning a Grade One at the Dublin Racing Festival and the Ballymore at Cheltenham in March.
He was entered for the last month’s Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown, but did not take his chance and connections have since confirmed their intention to pursue a career over fences.
However, Sir Gerhard does not hold any engagements over the festive period and Richard Thompson, director for owners Cheveley Park Stud, is unsure at this stage when he will return.
He said: “Sir Gerhard’s got an injury, unfortunately. He’s going to be out for a few weeks.
“That (chasing) is still the idea, but he won’t run over the Christmas period. Whether he’s back for Cheltenham, who knows? It’s disappointing.”
The Cheveley Park team have enjoyed huge success since upping their interest in National Hunt racing in recent years, with Gold Cup hero A Plus Tard and dual Ryanair Chase winner Allaho among those to carry the famous red, white and blue colours to Festival glory.
Things have not gone so well for the team so far this season, however, with Sir Gerhard the latest star to join a sidelined list that also includes Allaho and Ferny Hollow.
Thompson added: “Ferny Hollow is out for the season, obviously, and as we know Allaho was out for six weeks. He should be back in training soon and hopefully he’ll be fine.
“Last season was absolutely fantastic, winning nine Grade Ones with three Cheltenham winners including the Gold Cup with A Plus Tard.
“We were always going to hit a bump in the road, I think. We’ve already won a Grade One this season with Envoi Allen and if we could win another couple of Grade Ones it would be fantastic – but as I’ve always said, everything is a bonus.
“It’s been a fantastic run for us and we have to expect in the racing game, and with National Hunt in particular, there’s going to be some injuries. That’s the way it goes.”
Late call to be made on A Plus Tard return
Thompson and the team will make a late call on A Plus Tard’s participation in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown next week.
Last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup hero was a last-gasp winner of the Grade One contest in 2020, but the boot was on the other foot 12 months ago as he was headed close home by Galvin.
The Cheveley Park Stud-owned eight-year-old is favourite to regain his crown on December 28, despite a disappointing defence of the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month.
A Plus Tard was pulled up on Merseyside and while Henry de Bromhead was initially perplexed a later revealed a “couple of issues” had been discovered, including unsatisfactory blood test results.
Thompson would love to see him bounce back over the Christmas period, but insists there is “no pressure” on De Bromhead to run if he is not completely happy with the brilliant chaser.
“A final decision has not been made yet. Final declarations are on Monday and we’ll leave it to Henry to see how he feels,” said Thompson. “The horse wasn’t well obviously after Haydock and we’re still gunning for the Gold Cup in March, of course. The Savills would be great to run in – he’s run in it the last two years and run very well in it, but it’s Henry’s decision.”