Star hurdler Big Buck's was found to have a tiny tear in one of his legsPICTURE: Getty Images
Injured Big Buck's and Al Ferof out for the season
CHAMPION trainer Paul Nicholls was dealt a cruel blow on Monday evening as two of his stable stars, Big Buck's and Al Ferof, were ruled out for the season.
Breaking the news on his Betfair blog, the trainer said: "At evening stables tonight, 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."
Andy Stewart, owner of four-time World Hurdle winner Big Buck's, shed more light on the condition of his star hurdler when contacted by the Racing Post.
Stewart said: "He has a tiny tear in one of his legs, so the best way is to let nature heal that.
"To think that he would need to tackle a Grade 1 race in three months' time at Cheltenham, that's not my style."
Big Buck's had only just been installed a 1-7 favourite for Saturday's Long Walk Hurdle in which victory would have extended his record-breaking winning sequence to 19.
Stewart added: "It's just a ridiculous coincidence that Al Ferof has something similar. We're all gutted but it's far too premature to talk about retirement."
Incredibly Al Ferof was also discovered to have picked up a tendon injury, with owner John Hales expecting his grey to be off for at least 12 months. He was a general 5-1 second favourite for the King George.
Hales said: "We're certainly talking 12 months off. He has a slight nick in a tendon.
"The injury could have happened in a million ways. It's a big King George disappointment but he's had a wonderful 2012."
William Hill revised King George betting: Long Run 5-2f (from 7-2), Cue Card 9-2 (from 6-1), Riverside Theatre 6-1 (from 7-1), Sizing Europe 6-1 (from 8-1), 8-1 bar.