Champion King will miss Cheltenham
Jockey Barry Geraghty celebrates last year's Gold Cup on Kicking King
DUBLIN, Ireland -- A new champion will be crowned in March's Cheltenham Gold Cup, after 2005 winner Kicking King was ruled out of the race with a tendon injury.
The Irish horse secured a second successive King George VI Chase on Boxing Day - when trainer Tom Taafe believes he suffered the injury.
His absence means that fellow Irish horse Beef Or Salmon has replaced him as favorite, although he has failed to sparkle in steeplechasing's blue riband.
Kicking King's mishap deprives the race of the two biggest stars in the sport as three-time winner Best Mate died two months ago in his comeback race.
"On veterinary advice, myself and his owner Conor Clarkson have decided the horse will not run in the Gold Cup," said Taaffe, who almost pulled him out of the race last year fearing he wasn't in the right form before changing his mind.
"Nothing showed up for two days, but we were watching him and thought he had just banged his leg until we got it assessed.
"He has been scanned intensively by my vet Jimmy Kelly and the strain is in the upper third of his tendon, which is good news.
"If it was at the bottom it can be difficult to get them back, but they can often recover well from upper strains. I would hope to give him walking exercise, but he will definitely not be back this season.
"His target is now the 2007 Gold Cup. He has had good healing powers in the past and I would hope he has a similar response to this.
"I'd like to think we would have him back on the track next Christmas with a view of then going to Cheltenham."
Kicking King had been the 7/4 favorite with both William Hill and Ladbrokes bookmakers to take his second Gold Cup.
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