John Smith’s Grand National favourite Prince De Beauchene has been ruled out of the Aintree spectacular after suffering an injury.
The Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old shot to the head of the betting for the world’s most famous steeplechase following a brilliant performance in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse in February.
But following an unsatisfactory racecourse gallop at Fairyhouse earlier this week, a scan revealed the gelding had suffered a hairline fracture to his hip, ruling him out for the rest of the season.
Owner Graham Wylie said: “He went to Fairyhouse a few days ago and Ruby (Walsh) rode him, but he wasn’t happy afterwards.
“So Willie got him scanned and it showed that he had a hairline fracture to his hip, so he is going to need 12 weeks' box rest and unfortunately, that means he’s going to have to miss Aintree.
“It’s disappointing, but that’s horses for you. It’s better we’ve discovered it now than during the race.
“We’ll give him a bit of time and hopefully he’ll be back next season.”
Mullins confirmed the setback on his website saying: ``Prince De Beauchene disappointed in a routine workout during the week and a subsequent veterinary examination has revealed that he has a stress fracture in his ilium.
“Consequently he will not run in the Grand National.”
It is a particularly cruel blow for Wylie as Prince De Beauchene was due to be leased to a children’s heart unit charity for the day and any prize money the chaser might have earned would have been donated to the fund.
Wylie has strong links to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle as one of his daughters, Kiera, had to undergo open heart surgery within 48 hours of being born.
Wylie still has a major National contender in Thyestes Chase winner On His Own and he has confirmed that horse will now run for the charity.
Paddy Power believe Walsh’s most likely ride in the race is Seabass, trained by his father Ted.
He is 4-6 to get the leg up on that horse at Aintree, while he is 5-4 to partner On His Own.