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Thomas' Cheltenham bid over

There was bad news for jockeys on both sides of the Irish Sea yesterday with Sam Thomas going to miss Cheltenham after a bad fall and Flat jockey Danny Grant hit with a six-month ban for failing a routine drugs test.



Thomas was airlifted to hospital yesterday after a horrifying schooling fall at the yard of Paul Nicholls. The jockey — cursed by drama and dismay since his Gold Cup victory two years ago — suffered a cracked vertebra and will miss Cheltenham and Aintree.

This latest setback for Thomas came after Nicholls offered him the ride on Woolcombe Folly in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy next Tuesday. He was upsides Tony McCoy, on Chapoturgeon, when the fall occurred at the last of the schooling fences.

Nicholls said: “It was a frightening incident, quite horrific. We thought Sam was seriously hurt and knew we shouldn't move him, so we called the air ambulance and it was with us in six minutes. They took Sam to Bath (Royal United Hospital).”

The trainer was so distressed that he cancelled plans to attend a Gold Cup lunch in London and later spoke to Thomas personally.

Nicholls said: “They let me have a quick word. He was pretty groggy but amazingly positive.”

Tom George, Thomas's retaining trainer, last night said: “He has suffered a crack to a vertebra high up in his neck, but it is not as bad as first feared and he is able to walk, talk and move his hands and feet.”

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