Nicholls expecting stars to return
(Healy Racing Photos)
The Ditcheat handler broke the news on Monday night that King George hopeful Al Ferof and legendary staying hurdler Big Buck's were both done for the campaign.
Expanding on their situations on Tuesday, Nicholls told Betfair:
"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.
"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."
Considering the implications of the star duo's absence from the track, Nicholls also stated that Ruby Walsh will now ride Kauto Stone in the King George while he is mulling alternative plans for the World Hurdle.
"Looking at the World Hurdle, we have Wonderful Charm, Prospect Wells and perhaps even Tidal Bay to consider for that race," Nicholls continued.
"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."
Apprentice Samantha Bell is set to join Richard Fahey's yard in England in the new year.