Cue Card has been ruled out of Friday's rescheduled Game Spirit Chase after the 2010 Champion Bumper picked up a slight injury.
Set to line up against the exciting Sprinter Sacre in what was going to be a mouthwatering duel, the six-year-old is now fully expected to head straight to the Cheltenham Festival next month and have a tilt at the Arkle.
It was announced on Wednesday morning when jockey Joe Tizzard tweeted: "Cue Card misses Friday Game Spirit Chase" and his father Colin explained that he had suffered a minor setback and would bypass Friday's contest.
Tizzard advised ante-post punters that the stable star had picked up a slight knock on his fetlock joint and that he wouldn't be 100% for Friday's 2m 1f clash with Sprinter Sacre, who has since shortened up considerably for the Grade Two race.
However, Nicky Hendersons' up-and-coming star could still face some tough rivals with Paul Nicholls' Hold Fast looking to use the race as a springboard to next month's Queen Mother Champion Chase, whilst Nick Williams' Zaynar and Henderson's other contender French Opera could be major player.
Nevertheless, all eyes will now be on the classy Sprinter Sacre, who is already a short-priced favourite for the Arkle Challenge Trophy on March 13 and a win in Friday's contest at Newbury is sure to cement his place at the head of the betting for the Arkle and send him to Cheltenham as one of the bright stars of the four-day extravaganza.
Check out the Latest Game Spirit Chase Betting.