Cheltenham Festival ante-post favourite Epatante has been treated for a back problem following her shock defeat at Kempton.
Nicky Henderson's reigning champion hurdler was brushed aside by Silver Streak in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day.
Priced at 2-1 with Paddy Power to retain her crown in March, Epatante was long odds on for her last run – and her trainer believes he has found the reason for her below par effort.
“No (she won’t run before Cheltenham), that’s an easy answer. She didn’t last year and she won’t this year,” Henderson told ITV’s The Opening Show.
“We’re very pleased. We’ve been tinkering, obviously she wasn’t right at Kempton.
“It was her back, more than anything, I think, and that is what we have been trying to sort out – hopefully we have.
"It’s just got her more relaxed in her back and more supple.
"Something was agitating her on the day.”
Another of Henderson's market leaders for the big meeting, Shishkin, completed his preparation by winning at Doncaster on Saturday.
The seven-year-old put in a smooth round of jumping in the Grade 2 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Lightning Novices’ Chase and pulled eight-and-a-half lengths clear.
A strong pace was set in the two mile contest, which turned out to be easy pickings for the 1-7 favourite.
"I don't think that could have been more simple for him," jockey Nico de Boinville told ITV Racing.
"That was very straightforward.
"He's had a good workout there which is ideal for his prep, onwards to Cheltenham."
Coral trimmed Shishkin's price to 8-11 (from 4-5) for the Sporting Life Arkle.
"Shishkin once again looked faultless over fences in an impressive performance at Doncaster," said the firm's spokesman John Hill.
"He goes into the Festival as one of shortest price favourites across the week and he could well be the next superstar of the sport."
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