Leading Arkle Trophy contender Fago saw his Cheltenham Festival aspirations dealt a huge blow as he suffered a comprehensive defeat in the Kilbrittain Castle Novices' Chase at Sandown.
An impressive winner on his British debut and first start for Paul Nicholls at Newbury in mid-January, the five-year-old then fell at the second-last when looking the likely winner of the Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Warwick.
Sent off the 2-5 favourite, he was settled last of three by Ruby Walsh and appeared to be moving into contention nicely jumping the Railway fences, but could not bridge the gap when Tony McCoy kicked for home on 7-2 shot Kapga De Cerisy, who scored by 15 lengths despite making a mess of the final fence.
Winning trainer Venetia Williams said: "I put him in everything at Cheltenham and he'll go for one of the handicaps. Hopefully the proximity of the third horse means the handicapper won't overreact. I was worried the ground was different to how it has been for much of the season, but it didn't seem to matter."
Walsh said of Fago: "He rode like a horse who was coming off the end of a long season. He had a long year in France", while Nicholls later confirmed via twitter: "Fago will miss Cheltenham and we will try and get back to best for Aintree."
McCoy had earlier helped David Pipe's Shotavodka (4-7 favourite) to a facile success in the Chris Bakers' 40th Birthday 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle.
Olympian Boy (7-1) was given a ride as icy-cool as the Surrey weather by Paul Moloney in the John Ratcliffe Retirement Handicap Chase.
Christian Leech, part-owner and assistant trainer to his wife Sophie, said: "He has won four times for us now and ran very well here last time behind Shangani, who has franked the form since. He is nine, but could be able to cope with a slight step up in grade and he might come back here on March 9."
Thundering Home (7-1) did exactly that when coming from a mile off the pace in the February Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, with Goring One (16-1) also finishing strongly under a power-packed Andrew Thornton to take the Eric's Charm Handicap Chase for trainer Anna Newton-Smith.
Jamie Moore and Be All Man (7-2) pipped McCoy and 3-1 favourite Leader Of The Gang in the David Lindon & Co Handicap Hurdle. The jockey's father, trainer Gary Moore, said with a smile: "He says he would have won on either horse!"
22 December 2014Kingdoms to swerve Leopardstown
Moore glee at Grugy canter
Victory ready for Christmas cracker
Finale countdown for young guns
No rush for Ptit plan
Walsh has Kempton Fever
Skelton seeks greater Risk rewards
Master handed Festival aim
Gowran goal for Djakadam
Nicholls retain Zarkandar faith
Monbeg team wait on jockey plans
Goodwood announce Qatar deal
High hopes for Cue
Games ready for Challow date
Condon not appealing whip ban
Mogol makes it look easy
Derby hero Chaparral put down
Saphir adds sparkle to Feltham
Mullins star among Christmas seven
Walsh thrilled with Sceaux spin
February return likely for That
Lough still in Lexus frame
Milan primed for Chepstow return
21 December 2014Billy fine after Ascot spill
Hanlon hoping Cyclone strikes
Henderson pleased with big guns
Mulholland serves up Master-class
Bayan bags big Ascot prize
Broadway proves a show-stopper
Three Long Walks for super Sivola
Queen wears Listed crown
Nicholls strikes with Saint
Sceaux puts in impressive show
Silvi the star turn in King George
20 December 2014Sceaux puts in impressive show
Geraghty enthused by Bobs work
Walsh pain at Vautour defection
Billy puffing his chest out again
Master back in the spotlight
Grugy in line to start cantering
Newland seeks more from Re
Prize money boost in HRI initiative
Zig zips to impressive victory
New steroids policy delayed
Serge states Supreme case
Exciting Sceaux out at Fairyhouse
Firebird skips National service
19 December 2014Martin readying big guns
Hobbs on Garde at Ascot
Fry excited by Activial chance
The New One in Haydock return
Reve camp not expecting a hat-trick
King issues Chatez Triumph warning
Bolger searching for Mossey key
King weighs up Karezak options
Henderson hoping Bobs makes Lexus
Simonsig camp play the long game
In-form Mole buries Exeter rivals
Sedgefield hit with heavy fine
Star names check in for Ryanair
Bobs revved up for Lexus repeat
Knott disqualified for three years
Geraghty braced for power Serge
Geraghty excited by Josses return
Activial stars in Ladbroke field