Robert Thornton To Miss The Cheltenham Festival

Leading national hunt jockey Robert Thornton will miss the Cheltenham Festival through injury after breaking his right arm and suffering spinal damage in a heavy fall at Southwell on Monday afternoon.

Piloting Our Phylli Vera in the 2m handicap hurdle, the 34-year-old was sent flying into the turf and x-rays on Tuesday revealed that 'Choc', as he known in racing circles, suffered a broken arm and will likely be out for the rest of the season, which will obviously include next week's Cheltenham Festival, where he would've had some lively chances throughout the week.

The jockey tweeted on Wednesday morning: "Few tests yesterday, not great news, looks like I'll be missing the rest of the season!"  He added: "I am absolutely gutted."

Thornton's partnership with Alan King is one of the most recognisable in the national hunt sphere and the pair were sure to have some leading chances at next week's Cheltenham Festival, including Walkon, who will be a major player in the Byrne Group Plate on the third day of the meeting.

However, this should now leave the door open for able deputy Wayne Hutchinson, who has taken the reins from Thornton, when he suffered a broken arm, the same on in fact, in 2011.

It's obviously a worrying time for jockey's at this time of year, as they look to head to Cheltenham injury-free, but it's Thornton's demise that will offer opportunities to others in the weighing room in what will be a stunning four days of jumping action.

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