Smith 'gutted' as Ronald Pump is ruled out of Stayers' Hurdle through injury
Matthew Smith said he was "gutted" that last year's Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle runner-up Ronald Pump will not get the chance to go one better at the Cheltenham Festival next month.
Ronald Pump, who finished two lengths behind Lisnagar Oscar last year, was as short as 12-1 with BoyleSports to claim the crown this time around but a splint in his front leg will rule him out of the race.
Smith told the Racing Post on Monday: "He got a splint in his front leg and unfortunately he won't make Cheltenham. I'm obviously gutted as he had been in the form of his life and was trained for the race all season. He might make it back in time for Punchestown but we'll just have to see how he is in the coming weeks.
"It's just a little setback, and not career-threatening, but it's a shame it's happened now as we were really looking forward to bringing him back to Cheltenham. That's horses for you and you just have to take it on the chin. He's been a star for us and he'll be back."
Ronald Pump, who cost connections just €1,000 and has penned one of the best rags-to-riches stories of the last decade, looked as good as ever in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in November.
Over a trip short of his best, he powered home to get within half a length of Honeysuckle. That form has been franked twice since with the winner landing her second Irish Champion Hurdle and the third, Beacon Edge, winning Sunday's Boyne Hurdle at Navan.
Smith added: "Everybody was knocking the Hatton's Grace at the time but I thought it was a really good race and it's worked out that way too with Beacon Edge winning on Sunday. Ronald Pump only worked the other day and was brilliant so we were very excited about Cheltenham. Hopefully he'll be back for Punchestown."
Ronald Pump was priced between 12-1 and 16-1 for the Stayers' Hurdle. The 2019 winner Paisley Park is the 3-1 favourite with the sponsors, with Thyme Hill generally available at 7-2.
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