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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Nicholls dealt double injury blowHeadlines
Big Buck's

Trainer Paul Nicholls says it is "unlikely" Big Buck's and Al Ferof will run again this season.

The former was due to run in Saturday's Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, while Al Ferof was being prepared for an assault at the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Nicholls told Betfair: "At evening stables, we discovered a problem with both Big Buck's and Al Ferof. I am not in a position to go into great detail at this point, but I can confirm that Big Buck's will not be taking up his engagement at Ascot on Saturday and Al Ferof will not be running in the King George. And both are unlikely to run again this season."

Big Buck's' owner Andy Stewart said the remarkable nine-year-old, who has won his last 18 races, has suffered a leg injury and would not defend his crown in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next March.

He said: "He didn't do it (sustain the injury) on the gallops.He was a little bit anxious in one of his legs at evening stables and after Clifford (Baker, Nicholls' head lad) and the vet inspected him, we decided to draw stumps. He'll not be running on Saturday and he won't be trying to win a fifth World Hurdle in March.

"I'm a little bit gutted, but no-one has died and the horse is perfectly well. When the horses come back in at the end of July we shall reassess the situation. If he still has that zest and sparkle, we will continue with him, but if he hasn't got that zest and sparkle, he will be retired."

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