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Paul Nicholls: Losing Big Buck's and Al Ferof is a major disappointment but that's part of the game

It will probably be at least a year before we see Big Buck's back on the racecourse

"You only ever tend to hear about the good horses in these situations, but the injuries that Big Buck's and Al Ferof picked up happen to horses every day of the week in stables up and down the country. It's just that you never hear of them."

Following on from yesterday's Betting.Betfair exclusive, Paul updates us on his long-term plans for these two high profile horses and it may be this time next year before you see them again...

You are always living on the edge with racehorses, and yesterday we unfortunately lost Big Buck's and Al Ferof for the season.

I must stress that they are not career-threatening injuries, and maybe we could have even given them both a month's rest, and then kicked on again with them. 

But I have learned down the years to stop and sort the problem immediately in these circumstances.

They were two separate incidents, and unfortunately these kind of injuries are part and parcel of the game when training supremely fit racehorses.

You only ever tend to hear about the good horses in these situations, but the injuries that Big Buck's and Al Ferof picked up happen to horses every day of the week in stables up and down the country. It's just that you never hear of them.

But, clearly with high-profile horses, we had a duty to inform the public as soon as the injuries were confirmed late on Monday afternoon and after I had spoken to the owners. And that is what we did last night in these columns.

Clifford is brilliant with legs and he first detected something possibly wasn't quite right with the horses on Sunday night. He wasn't overly-happy with them, so we called in Buffy on Monday morning to look at them and do some scans.

And when they came back and confirmed what we suspected, I immediately spoke to everyone concerned last evening and got the statement out as soon as I possibly could.

Both Andy Stewart and John Hales have been in the game a long time - they have been there and got the T-shirt - and both were as calm and understanding as I would have expected of two such professionals.

With Big Buck's, Clifford detected a tiny bit of heat on Sunday and that sent the alarm bells ringing. So Buffy scanned his near fore tendon on Monday, and that confirmed a tiny bit of damage.

He will now be given a month's box rest, and then be given 2-3 hours walking daily until the ground is better in April and we will turn him out.

Then he will probably come back in on September 1, with a view to running again next Christmas.

And the same recovery and training schedule awaits Al Ferof. He too had some heat in a leg at the weekend and I imagine he knocked himself either schooling or working, and suffered a bit of damage. But in these situations you never know for sure how and when it occurred.

If a footballer has a slight tweak then he will go to his manager and tell him. But horses can't talk - and that is where Clifford comes to the fore and excels.

Al Ferof is potentially so good that we will take our time with him, and he will have the same recovery schedule as Big Buck's, then go to Pat and John's for the summer.

Both horses will hopefully then be in a position to run at the Festival in 2014.

I have been in the game long enough to take these things in my stride, and so have my owners.

But, of course, it is hugely disappointing.

However, I always look on the bright side and it is now our job to meet the challenge, and get new horses to fill their places in the big races.

Ruby will now ride Kauto Stone in the King George and, looking at the World Hurdle, we have Wonderful Charm, Prospect Wells and perhaps even Tidal Bay to consider for that race.

Wonderful Charm has had a breathing operation since winning at Chepstow, and I may even consider Tidal Bay for the Cleeve Hurdle after he runs in the Lexus. For sure, he has enough talent and versatility to make his presence felt in the World Hurdle, as well as the Gold Cup.

You learn to live with disappointments in this game. 

It is how you respond to them that marks out the resolve of the man, and the stable.

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18 December 2012

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