Imperial Commander, the 2010 Gold Cup winner, was set to make a comeback and possibly regain his crown, but a lung infection forced his trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, to pull him out of the race.
After an absence of nearly two years, the veteran chaser emerged as a surprise contender in one of the most biggest races in the sport, when he finished second in the Argento Chase in January.
However, despite the disappointment, connections hope he will recover in time for the John Smith's Grand National next month.
While Twiston-Davies keeps his fingers-crossed for the 12-year-old horse, jockey Robert Thornton revealed he broke his arm in a fall at Southwell on Monday and will now miss the remainder of the season.
Thornton, one of my favourite jockeys and a true gentleman (I have met him a few times and he is lovely), also damaged his spine in the tumble from Our Phylli Vera in a handicap hurdle, but it's hoped surgery will not be required.
The Cheltenham Festival will not be the same without the two sporting greats, but I, along with everyone in the racing world, wishes them a speedy and healthy recovery.