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Michael O'Leary fears Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Don Cossack's career could be over because of a tendon injury.
Don Cossack carried the Gigginstown House Stud colours to victory in the blue riband in March and was favourite to retain the Punchestown Gold Cup before he was ruled out through injury.
The problem was discovered following a workout on the gallops at the weekend and connections have warned that he will not return to action unless he is 100 per cent.
Trainer Gordon Elliott hopes to get the nine-year-old back, but O'Leary fears his career could be brought to a premature end.
"I fear he has had it. It would be very difficult for him to come back ever," O'Leary told The Times.
"Gordon and the team want to bring him back but what will make it extraordinarily difficult is that he is nine. With a tendon you generally have to take a year off and if you do at nine, you come back to a Gold Cup at 10 or 11.
"Horses don't come back (from this sort of injury). He would be running in a Gold Cup at that age with interrupted preparation with his leg. I think it is unlikely, but Gordon will leave no stone unturned.
"That is why I say you should enjoy a Gold Cup when you win one, because very rarely do they ever come back."