Sizing John will not defend the Gold Cup at Cheltenham Festival due to injury, trainer Jessica Harrington has confirmed.
The eight-year-old second-favourite was in with a shot of becoming the first horse to retain the Gold Cup since Best Mate won three in a row from 2002 to 2004, but a hairline pelvis fracture has forced a withdrawal.
Harrington called the injury a "massive blow", while jockey Robbie Power branded it "heartbreaking" on social media.
"It is with a heavy heart I have to report that Sizing John will miss the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He cantered as normal this morning at Commonstown and during routine checks this afternoon was found to be sore behind," Harrington told Unibet.
It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce that Sizing John will miss next weeks Cheltenham Gold Cup more news to follow pic.twitter.com/RRA3iJdvGP-- Jessica Harrington (@Jessica_Racing) March 8, 2018
"I have had our vet Mark McRedmond come and check him over. He has found a hairline non-displaced fracture of his pelvis. He will have box rest for two weeks and then be rescanned with a view of starting walking exercise.
"This is a massive blow for the Potts family [owners] and for all our team here at Commonstown."
Power posted on Twitter: "Heartbreaking to get the call from @Jessica_Racing this evening with the news the Sizing John won't return to challenge for his Gold Cup next week. We're all very disappointed but don't worry, he'll be back!"
Heartbreaking to get the call from @Jessica_Racing this evening with the news the Sizing John won't return to challenge for his Gold Cup next week. We're all very disappointed but don't worry, he'll be back! @BoyleSports pic.twitter.com/1Au578UF0X-- Robbie "Puppy" Power (@Robbie_Power_) March 8, 2018