It is the last thing you want to hear when you are expecting to head to the Cheltenham Festival with a red-hot favourite in tow.
But it’s the news that Joseph O’Brien had to deliver to JP McManus: Le Richebourg, his ante-post favourite for the Arkle Chase at the Prestbury Park meeting, would have to be withdrawn.
The six-year-old has picked up an undisclosed injury, as confirmed in the Betfair blog of O’Brien, and will now miss the rest of the season.
“Unfortunately, Le Richebourg will not run in the Arkle and will miss the rest of the season,” the statement read.
“He worked routinely on Saturday, but we weren’t happy with him afterwards, and further investigations this morning have revealed that he has picked up an injury that rules him out for the rest of the season.”
“It’s very disappointing for everyone here, as he has been brilliant all season and we were very much looking forward to seeing him in action at Cheltenham.”
The French horse was as short as 5/2 in the ante-post market, and that follows a sublime six months or so in which he has won four times including a pair of Grade 1 triumphs.
Punters are now left to look elsewhere for their Arkle Chase jollies…
Lalor the Natural Successor to French Fancy
The betting market has been rejigged, and now Lalor looks set to go off as favourite for the Arkle on day one of the Cheltenham Festival 2019.
The German horse, trained by Kayley Woollacott on behalf of David Staddon, has won at Cheltenham already this term and notched a Grade One affair at Aintree back in 2018, and so his pedigree is assured.
The seven-year-old may have to fight off the charge of Glen Forsa, however, who impressed everyone with his run in the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park in February.
Mick Channon’s chaser demolished the 1/4 favourite, Kalashnikov, and served notice of his ability to run at a frightening pace.
That followed a couple of other decent victories, and it would seem that the 15f mark suits him.
Defi Du Seuil, a 5/1 shot in the ante-post market, could possibly be pointed elsewhere according to JP McManus’ team, with the JLT Novices’ Chase a possible destination.
“We’ll be thinking about it. The ground and everything will have a bearing on it. It’s all up in the air at the minute,” so said Frank Berry, who is McManus’s racing manager.
“Which race he goes for hasn’t even been discussed. Getting him there in one piece is the main thing.”
It will still be a classy Arkle renewal if that trio goes at it, and they could yet be joined by the eye-catching Duc Des Genievres.
The six-year-old would be Willie Mullins’ stellar entry into the field, and while his CV is something of a mixed bag a massive margin of victory at Gowran Park last time out certainly caught the eye.
He was just eight lengths shy of the Samcro in last year’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, and that is intriguing indeed as punters weigh up a tantalising Arkle market.