Barters Hill future uncertain as Ben Pauling draws stumps for the season
Barters Hill has been ruled out for the season following the injury he suffered at Cheltenham earlier this month and has a "50-50" chance of returning to his absolute best, trainer Ben Pauling has revealed.
The popular six-year-old was pulled up sharply by David Bass after just seven fences of the Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase when making his debut over the bigger obstacles.
Pauling's stable star, whose only previous defeat came in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at last season's Cheltenham Festival, was found to have slipped a tendon off a hock.
Explaining the injury in more detail, Pauling said: "When the tendon is stripped off the point of the hock, they don't ever put it back where it was supposed to be as there just isn't an operation to do that. Instead the tendon beds itself into a new position and will strengthen up from there.
"What you don't want is for the tendon to be half on and half off which unfortunately is what happened to Barters Hill.
"He's going to have keyhole surgery in Newmarket next week, which will take the tendon completely off.
"That will rule him out for the season and then we can start again."
Pauling said vets have told him Barters Hill has a "50-50 chance" of returning as good as he was, but the Gloucestershire-based trainer remains optimistic.
He explained: "They're giving him a 50-50 chance of returning to full strength, which from where we were isn't actually that bad.
"As we know he's a very hardy horse and he should be a very good patient, which will give him the best possible chance.
"I think he probably will return, but he has a 50 per cent chance of returning as the Grade One horse we thought he was.
"Even if he comes back and has lost a bit of ability or speed, he'll still be a nice horse, so we'll just have to see which way it goes.
"It's a big blow and a real kick in the teeth for the yard and his owners.
"The good thing is Barters Hill is walking around happy and sound and goes out for picks of grass every day.
"He'll get the best possible care and we'll do whatever is in the best interests of the horse."
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Source: At The Races