Ruby Walsh has targeted a return to the saddle at the end of January after suffering a double fracture to his right leg at Down Royal on Saturday.
Just over an hour after partnering Kauto Star to victory in the JNwine.com Champion Chase, the champion jockey suffered the injury after coming to grief on Corrick Bridge in a handicap chase.
Walsh reports his subsequent operation to have gone well and he is trying to remain upbeat.
“The operation all went well yesterday and I'll be back home tomorrow,” Walsh revealed yesterday. “I reckon I'm looking at 12 weeks out. I heard one newspaper said I could be out for six months — but I haven't broken my neck!
“These things happen and you can't all be doom and gloom about it, and at least I'll get a chance to spend some time with my family.”
In Walsh's absence, Sam Thomas is set to be reunited with Denman when he bids to win the Hennessy Gold Cup for the third time on November 27.
Thomas was on board the 10-year-old when he took the Newbury highlight in 2007, while they also tasted Cheltenham Gold Cup glory together in 2008.
After winning the Hennessy under Ruby Walsh 12 months ago, champion jockey Tony McCoy took to the saddle for the remainder of the campaign.
But with Walsh sidelined with a broken leg and McCoy expected to be retained by his boss and leading owner JP McManus, connections have once again turned to Thomas.
Denman's owner Paul Barber said: “I shall be very surprised if Sam doesn't ride Denman in the Hennessy and I hope he wants to ride him.”
Meanwhile, David Pipe believes the Nicky Henderson-trained Long Run is a “certainty” for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Long Run is the 7-2 market leader with the sponsors while Pipe is responsible for the 4-1 second favourite Great Endeavour.
“Great Endeavour is in great form and obviously won at the Cheltenham Festival last season,” said Pipe.
“He has summered well and looks to have a great chance, although he has got it to do to beat Long Run. He goes on any ground and although it doesn't matter, he wouldn't want it too soft.”