The nine-year-old grey, trained by David Pipe, looked destined for the top when he won the Feltham Chase at Kempton in December 2011, but several training problems prevented him from fulfilling his potential.
As a staying hurdler only Big Buck’s was his superior and he ran Paul Nicholls’ star to a length and three-quarters in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival. He is now enjoying a new career in the equestrian world.
“George’ had been a wonderful standard-bearer for the yard, proving only inferior to the mighty Big Buck’s in the staying hurdles division before becoming the best novice chaser of his generation culminating with a memorable victory over Silviniaco Conti and Bobs Worth in the Grade One Feltham Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day in 2011,” the Nicholashayne handler said.
“Unfortunately he suffered with well-documented issues afterwards and never truly scaled the same heights. He has subsequently been participating in ex-racehorse showing events and dressage with Julie Reynolds in Tewkesbury and has been doing very well. While it is a shame that we will not be seeing him on a racecourse again, he owes us absolutely nothing and after discussing it with his owners it was decided that retirement from racing was in his best interest.
“He is kept active and contented and I am sure you will join me in wishing him a long and happy second career.”
Grands Crus won seven of his 20 starts and amassed nearly £250,000 in prize money. His final appearance came over hurdles at Kempton last November.
Meanwhile Pipe’s Ryanair Chase winner Dynaste is one of 19 high-class entries for Saturday’s Betfred Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase at Aintree.
The grey was narrowly beaten by Silviniaco Conti in the Betfred-sponsored Bowl on Merseyside after Cheltenham and has the option of starting his season in this or the Charlie Hall at Wetherby a week later.
Nicky Henderson’s Rajdhani Express was third behind Dynaste in the Ryanair and may reoppose.
There are several old favourites entered, with the Philip Hobbs-trained Wishfull Thinking and Sue Smith’s Mr Moonshine engaged. Tom George’s Module is top-class on his day and Alan King’s Uxizandre, second to Taquin Du Seuil at the Cheltenham Festival, adds further strength.