Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack has been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a slight tendon tear, trainer Colin Tizzard has announced.
The horse was the 7/4 favourite to win the landmark race of the festival which takes place in mid-March.
His absence leaves a more open field, although two other Tizzard-trained runners - Welsh Grand National winner Native River and Cue Card - now the favourites.
Thistlecrack's recent dominance over the fences included victory on Boxing Day in the King George Vi Chase at Kempton.
He suffered defeat in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham at the end of January in tragic circumstances as former Grand National winner Many Clouds collapsed and died of exhaustion after holding off Thistlecrack's late challenge.
He's the latest in a series of horses to be pulled out of the festival.
Earlier this month Irish-trained runners Faugheen and Min were both removed due to injury