Thyme Hill will miss next week’s Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle after suffering a minor but untimely setback.
Trainer Philip Hobbs confirmed the seven-year-old will not be able to take up his engagement at the Cheltenham Festival because of a pulled muscle – but is “very likely” to recover in time for the equivalent Grade One race at Aintree next month.
Hobbs said: “He’s definitely not going to run at Cheltenham.
“It is minor – he’s pulled a minor muscle to the right hand side of the saddle, just behind the saddle.
“He’s actually very likely to run at Aintree, which is four weeks tomorrow.
“So it’s certainly not career-threatening or anything like that.”
Thyme Hill has vied for favouritism in the Cheltenham showpiece all winter with 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle winner Paisley Park, having beaten Emma Lavelle’s stable star once and then finished a neck second to him once in his two starts this season.
The much-anticipated round three between the two heavyweights will not happen, however, next week.
“Unfortunately it’s just very bad timing,” added Hobbs.
“He’s got to have a few easy days, which you can’t really do before Cheltenham – so he’s not going to get there.”