Cheltenham Festival

Nicky Henderson disappointed as well-fancied royal runner ruled out of the Pertemps

Steal A March: would be a popular winner at the Cheltenham Festival
Steal A March: had been no bigger than 16-1 to gove the King and Queen Consort a festival winnerCredit: Nigel Kirby

The royal colours will be missing from the Cheltenham Festival next week after Nicky Henderson announced that Steal A March had met with a setback and will miss the Pertemps Final on Thursday.

Steal A March was no bigger than 16-1 for the race and had been kept fresh since winning the Wincanton qualifier for the Pertemps on Boxing Day.

"He isn't going to make it which is sad, very sad," said Henderson on Friday morning. "We were hoping to get him to the race because it has been the plan for a while. And it would have been nice to have had a runner for the King and the Queen Consort, who were very much looking forward to the prospect of him lining up.

"He was lame after his work yesterday and will have to miss the party. I'm really disappointed for everyone and he certainly wasn't going there as a social runner.

"I'd kept him fresh since he qualified and I thought he had a right shout."

Henderson is set be well represented in the race, with Walking On Air and Captain Morgs well to the fore in the betting, though he confessed that Steal A March had been a particular project for a race in which his sole previous winner was Call The Cops in 2015.

He said: "We know these things will happen in the run-up to the festival but that was one I didn't want. He's not right and there's no point going there if you're not spot on.

"I shall have a few runners in the race but he would have been right at the front of the queue. I'm gutted for the King and The Queen Consort, as well as for the public; I think people would have liked to see those colours, which are so famous, at Cheltenham."

The Charles Byrnes-trained Shoot First is a best-priced 7-2 favourite for the Pertemps.

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James BurnLambourn correspondent

Published on 10 March 2023inCheltenham Festival

Last updated 14:49, 10 March 2023