Willoughby Court has been ruled out of making his eagerly-awaited return in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle on Sunday after meeting with a minor setback.
Trainer Ben Pauling had earmarked the Listed contest as a stepping stone for the Grade One-winning seven-year-old ahead of a potential outing in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on December 1, for which he is a general 20-1 chance.
Having recovered from a foot abscess sustained in the build up to the Cheltenham Festival in March, the Paul and Clare Rooney-owned gelding now faces another short spell on the sidelines after cutting himself in his box.
Pauling said: “Willoughby Court has picked up a little cut in his box. It is a superficial injury, but he will not quite be ready for Carlisle.
“It was just a little cut on his hind leg and I don’t want him dragging it through birch. Apart from that he is fine and I could not be happier with him.
“The idea was to give him a run at Carlisle then possibly go to Newbury for the Ladbrokes Trophy.
“We will take it as it goes from here, but the Ladbrokes Trophy is still very much an option.
“There are other races that could suit him like the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot, which is a Grade Two, or there is the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle.
“There are plenty of options, but we are certainly in the Ladbrokes Trophy – he is there for a reason and we are not running away from it.”
Bourton-on-the-Water-based Pauling is weighing up whether to start last season’s impressive Dovecote winner Global Citizen off in a handicap event at Ascot on Saturday or wait for the Grade Two Unibet Elite Hurdle at Wincanton on November 10.
He added: “Global Citizen just missed a piece of work and just needed a bit more time, that is why he didn’t run at Kempton earlier this month.
“He has been given an entry at Ascot at the weekend, but I’m not sure if he will go there or wait for the Elite Hurdle. The ground is quite quick at Wincanton and he wouldn’t want it like a road.”