ALL plans for Grands Crus are currently "on hold", according to David Pipe.
The grey looked set for a big season this term and was a short-priced favourite for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November, but was pulled up and subsequently had a breathing operation.
He performed with great credit in the King George at Kempton on St Stephen's Day, finishing third, and Pipe was confident he would strip fitter in the Argento Chase last weekend.
However, he was never really travelling and was pulled up some way out.
"I was hoping for a really big run from him - the very testing ground would have been softer than ideal but I would not dream of offering that up as an excuse for this lacklustre effort," Pipe wrote on his blog. "He returned feeling sorry for himself and was quiet on Sunday. He will be freshened up now and all plans are on hold."
One horse to have sidestepped a gruelling renewal of the Argento Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday was The Giant Bolster. Last year's Gold Cup runner-up has had an interrupted season due to the weather, but trainer David Bridgwater decided to skip Cheltenham and head for the Denman Chase on February 9 at Newbury instead.
With Grands Crus doing little to enhance his Gold Cup claims, Bridgwater is hoping regular pilot Tom Scudamore could now be available for his stable star.
"I don't think many people learned much from Cheltenham on Saturday regarding March as the ground was so bad - although it was great racing," said Bridgwater.
"I can't understand the price of Imperial Commander. He was as good as Kauto Star and Denman and looked as good as ever to me on Saturday - he'll be in the mix that's for sure. The Giant Bolster will head for the Denman Chase providing the ground isn't too bad. It wouldn't bother me if he didn't run again, though, he won't want for fitness.
"He's always been a spring horse and next year I may bring him back in later as it's been a nightmare this year.
"It would just be nice for everyone to see him in action as (the King George at) Kempton was a complete waste of everyone's time. As soon as AP (McCoy) got on his back, his ears went back as if he was saying 'who's this?'. While it wasn't nice to see Grands Crus pulled up, I think it means we'll have our jockey back in the Gold Cup. He knows him very well."