Cheltenham countdown: Fox Norton out and Willoughby Court a doubt

Mon 26 Feb 2018
Cheltenham Racecourse - The Open - The Open Sunday Fox Norton will miss the rest of the campaign (PA)

By staff

Colin Tizzard has been dealt a blow after Fox Norton was ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival and the rest of the season.

Agonisingly beaten in the Queen Mother Champion Chase last season, he was being aimed at the Ryanair Chase over further this year.

Joe Tizzard, the Dorset trainer's son and assistant, said in a statement: "Unfortunately, Fox Norton will miss the Cheltenham Festival and the rest of the season due to a slight suspensory injury."

A close second to Politologue in the Tingle Creek, Fox Norton was upped to three miles for the King George at Christmas when he disappointed, but he was subsequently found to have been suffering with a spinal issue.

Fox Norton had been second favourite for the Ryanair behind last year's winner Un De Sceaux.

2017 Cheltenham Festival - Ladies Day - Cheltenham Racecourse Willoughby Court is not certain to run at Cheltenham because of a foot problem (PA)

Meanwhile, JLT Novices' Chase favourite Willoughby Court is suffering with a foot problem and may also miss the meeting.

Ben Pauling's stable star, a winner at the Festival last March, has an abscess and it all depends upon how long it takes to clear up.

Jason Maguire, racing manager for Willoughby Court's owners Paul and Clare Rooney, said: "He's got a bit of an abscess in his foot, which is frustrating, but we'll just have to see how he is over the next few days. It's very disappointing to come so close to Cheltenham but it can't be helped."

He added: "His owners are very patient and are very happy to do what is best by him.

"We'll make a decision in the next couple of days whether he's fit enough to go to Cheltenham or not. If he can't go, he can't go."

The Rooneys were dealt a blow last week when If The Cap Fits, their leading SkyBet Supreme Novice Hurdle hope, was ruled out of the meetung with a muscle problem.

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