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Racing: TRABOLGAN KO; Injury rules Henderson star out for the rest of the season.

Byline: By Garry Owen

TRABOLGAN will miss the Cheltenham Gold Cup after being ruled out for the rest of the season.

Connections made the decision following the problems that surfaced after his brilliant victory in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup.

They decided to play safe and rest the seven-year-old, who carried top weight of 11st 12lb to victory in the big handicap chase at Newbury a month ago.

"Having spoken at length with Trabolgan's owner Trevor Hemmings and the vets, we have decided to give the rest of this season a miss," said trainer Nicky Henderson.

"It is precautionary more than anything and luckily he is a young horse with half his career still ahead of him.

"We re-scanned him and there is the most discreet evidence in one of his legs that there could be something amiss, so we decided not to take any chances"It is inconsequential at the moment but could lead to a more significant problem if we did not take the safer route and we are just looking forward to his return in the autumn."

The first scan had found mild changes within the tendon fibre pattern on his near foreleg.

Although connections were forced to scrap plans to run Trabolgan in the Stan James King George VI Chase at Sandown on Boxing Day, they had still been hopeful of being able to get him back for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Trabolgan, winner of the Royal & SunAlliance Chase at last season's Festival, was 13-2 third favourite with the sponsors for the blue riband.

Meanwhile, Barry Geraghty is "very hopeful" Kicking King can complete back-to-back victories in the pounds 200,000 Stan James King George VI Chase at Sandown on Boxing Day.

The rider was in the saddle 12 months ago when the Irish ace survived a last-fence blunder before going on to beat Kingscliff by two and a half lengths.

The Tom Taaffe-trained gelding went on to win the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup under Geraghty but has suffered defeats in his two races this season.

After being beaten by War Of Attrition on his reappearance at Punchestown in October, he was only third to Kingscliff in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month, although he returned sore after twisting a shoe.

"Naturally I'm looking forward to riding Kicking King again. I've not ridden him since Haydock,but Tom says he's in brilliant form so I'm very hopeful," said Geraghty.

"I see no reason why the course at Sandown won't suit him. He should beOK.

"Kingscliff is the horse to beat but I'd be hopeful.We beat him well in the King George at Kempton last year despite making a mistake at the last. If he's back to anywhere near that form he'd be good enough to beat him.

"Impek is a horse that has improved, but I just think three miles in that company around Sandown may be a little bit too much for him.

"It's going to be a good race and will take some winning, but I'd be very hopeful."

Robert Alner put Kingscliff through his paces at his Dorset stables ahead of the eight-year-old's bid to go one better in the Christmas showpiece, for which nine horses stood their ground at the final declaration stage"I've ridden him out myself this morning and I'm 100 per cent happy with him," the trainer said. "There are no problems so we are looking forward to it.

"We are counting the hours until we get there. He's absolutely A1 and we're totally happy with him."

Coral: 11-8 Kicking King, 9-4 Kingscliff, 6 Impek, 8 L'Ami, 10 Ollie Magern, Royal Auclair, 20 Monkerhostin,25 Irish Hussar,66 Ballycassidy.

Paddy Power: 11-8 Kicking King, 9-4 Kingscliff, 13-2 Impek, 9 L'Ami, 11 Ollie Magern, 16 Royal Auclair, 25 Irish Hussar, 28 Monkerhostin,150Ballycassidy

CAPTION(S):

CUP CRACKER: Trabolgan (left) en route to a brilliant victory in the Hennessy
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 24, 2005
Words:651
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