A reason for what looked a below-par performance by Puffin Billy at Exeter on Sunday appears to have been revealed, with the smart novice hurdler found to have pus in one of his hooves.
Unbeaten in four starts prior to a Listed event at the Devon course, Oliver Sherwood's gelding was sent off the odds-on favourite but proved no match for Melodic Rendezvous and was beaten by nine lengths.
Found to be lame by the Exeter vets, Puffin Billy has entries in the William Hill Supreme and Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdles at Cheltenham.
Sherwood said: "My farrier dug out a whole load of pus from one of his feet (on Monday morning). What with the wet weather, it's like getting a blister and he'll have two or three quiet days having it poulticed.
"Hopefully he'll be able to be ridden towards the end of the week.
"I don't like to have sour grapes, and take nothing away from Melodic Rendezvous, but at least we have some sort of reason for his run."
Sherwood is not sure whether one of his other Cheltenham prospects, Mischievous Milly, will contest Friday's Jane Seymour Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Sandown.
She beat last weekend's Warwick Grade Two winner Ma Filleule on her most recent run at Taunton.
"I'm loathe to run her on desperate ground over two and a half miles, so I'm not sure I will have made a decision until Thursday morning," Sherwood said.
"I don't want to bottom her out."
23 February 2017Sara Bradstock pleased with Coneygree recovery progress
Imperial Cup option for Peace And Co
Soldier In Action on the Cheltenham Festival wagon after Doncaster romp
Nicky Henderson has Pendil preference for Different Gravey
Willie Mullins takes stock after 'huge performance' from Limini at Punchestown
Nicky Henderson wary of Un De Sceaux threat in Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham
David Simcock goes Meydan Trophy hunting with Sheikhzayedroad
All roads lead to Arkle Trophy for Altior and Nicky Henderson
Nicky Henderson says Noel Fehily still in Buveur D'Air frame for Champion Hurdle
Micky Hammond targets Naas prize with Just Cameron
Tom George issues Roc D'Apsis Kempton warning
22 February 2017Luckless Jonathan Burke suffers further injury blow
Limini leaves Apple's Jade toiling at Punchestown
Melon and Moon Racer in Supreme mix as latest Festival scratchings revealed
Doyle admits ground uncertainty for Justmemyselfandi
Nicky Richards still considering National Hunt Chase challenge for Baywing
Epsom announces Friday switch for Coronation Cup
Harry Fry still debating Cheltenham options for Neon Wolf
Soft ground key to Acapella Bourgeois Festival run
Evan Williams mulling Albert Bartlett option for De Dollar Man
Robert Havlin 'deeply upset and shocked' at six-month France Galop riding ban
Jerrysback looks smart in extending unbeaten record at Wetherby
Colin Tizzard hoping to have Thistlecrack back at Christmas after tendon shock
Ch'Tibello team hoping to make Champion date despite wind operation
Paul Nicholls keen on Politologue chance in JLT Novices' Chase
Saphir Du Rheu to target Gold Cup at Cheltenham
Thistlecrack out of Cheltenham Gold Cup - racing reacts
Zarkandar set to take Stayers' Hurdle challenge at Cheltenham
Top mares Apple's Jade and Limini clash in Quevega heat at Punchestown
21 February 2017Gold Cup shock as Cheltenham favourite Thistlecrack ruled out for the season
Evan Williams keen to tackle Adonis date with Evening Hush
Nine big guns to miss the Cheltenham Festival
Tendon injury rules Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack out for the season
Paul Moloney to see specialist again as he continues shoulder injury recovery
Lil Rockerfeller on course for National Spirit defence at Fontwell
Sceau Royal and Footpad both set for Champion date for Munir and Souede
Terry Doherty picks up top prize at Stud and Stable Staff Awards
Tendon problem rules out Champion Hurdle bid for Superb Story
Shotgun Paddy and Raz De Maree in line for Eider Chase honours
Bristol De Mai team to 'roll the dice' and head for Gold Cup
Ground crucial to Cheltenham bid for Colin's Sister
Brian Ellison happy to take Arkle challenge with Forest Bihan
Arpege D'Alene still in the frame for four-miler at Cheltenham
Mutakayyef leads 11 in Winter Derby contention
Course specialist Tea For Two heads 20 left in BetBright Chase at Kempton
Colin Kidd maps out Aintree aim for Rashaan
20 February 2017Carlisle double delight for in-form Nigel Hawke
Will Biddick confirmed for Ask The Weatherman in Foxhunter at Cheltenham
Jockey Club prize-money boost for smaller tracks
Perfect Candidate ruled out of Eider mission by Fergal O'Brien
Regal Encore in Midlands National frame
Place gets home to complete five-timer in Boyne Hurdle
All-the-way Acapella Bourgeois enters RSA Chase picture after Navan romp
Don Poli and Outlander heading for Gold Cup
Cheltenham off the agenda for Identity Thief following setback
Ball D'Arc bounds to Flyingbolt success at Navan
Colin Tizzard set for nervous Cheltenham build-up
Blow for Paul Nicholls with Cliffs Of Dover out for rest of the season
Harry Fry rules out National Hunt Chase for RSA-bound American
Nicky Henderson still undecided over Whisper's Cheltenham target