Kyprios to miss Ascot Gold Cup defence as Aidan O’Brien targets second half of season for star stayer

Kyprios and Ryan Moore winning the Irish St Leger.

Michael Verney

Kyprios will not defend his Ascot Gold Cup crown with Aidan O'Brien targeting a return in the autumn for his star stayer after he suffered a joint problem.

Kyprios took all before him last season with six wins from six starts - including four Grade One contests - but the son of Galileo will miss the early part of the season after a setback.

“I don’t think Kyprios is going to make the Gold Cup. He got a little bit of a joint and it’s not settling down. We will just have to wait and see. It’s one of these things," O'Brien said of the five-year-old.

"Maybe he will be (our flag bearer again) but he has to come right. It happened a month ago and it’s just not settled – sometimes these things can settle very quickly and sometimes they don’t.

"He got an inner infection inside in the joint, an unusual thing, and it had to be flushed and then there was more infection, so it had to be flushed a second time.

"It's like one of your own joints, it takes a while to settle down so that's where he is at the moment."

O'Brien's Plan B for the Royal Ascot marathon in June could include the likes of four-year-old filly Emily Dickinson and recent Dubai Gold Cup winner Broome while he also had some bad news on English 1,000 Guineas hope Statuette.

An impressive winner of a Curragh Group Two on her last start in June, the daughter of Justify is expected to return in the summer after also being hit with a setback.

"Statuette is on a bit of a hold up, I don't think she's going to make the Guineas," O'Brien said. "We'll just go gentle and see how she is. I expect her to be back in the second half of the season."