Racehorse owners Andrea and Graham Wylie might be thinking of renaming their star chaser Prince De Beauchene “Déjà vu”. This morning he was ruled out of the Grand National for the second successive season with an identical injury to that which prevented him running last year.
On 2012 Prince De Beauchene was favourite for the National when he was hit with a pelvic problem just a week before the race. Today, trainer Willie Mullins said on his website, “We have some bad news about Prince De Beauchene. He had not been striding out for the last few days and following a bone scan at Troytown Veterinary Hospital, it has been confirmed he has a minor stress fracture in his illium. He will require at least six weeks box rest so unfortunately he will miss the Aintree Grand National."
Although clearly the a well fancied horse for trainer and owners, both have other horses in the race, most notably race favourite On His Own.
The loss of Mullins’ horse still leaves Irish trainers with the first three in the betting, and you have to go to down to sixth place to find the first English trained horse, Paul Nicholls’ Join Together. The trainer put forward an optimistic bulletin on the horse, who earlier this season demonstrated his ability over the National fences when finishing just a neck behind veteran Hello Bud in the Betfred Becher Chase. Nicholls said, “Join Together has been trained for the race all season and he is in great form. I am very happy with him.”
The ground at Aintree is steadily drying out and that is set to continue. That news increased the probability of top weight Imperial Commander taking his place in the field. Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said a switch to the shorter Betfred Bowl, or missing Aintree altogether in favour of a trip to Punchestown, would only happen if the going were testing.
Paul Costello, speaking for the Our Friends In The North syndicate, owners of Imperial Commander, said, “The horse is fresh and well and fully recovered from the infection that ruled him out of Cheltenham. He worked this morning (Tuesday) and will do so again on Thursday. The plan is to leave him in the National at the five day stage and to keep all options open bearing in mind the weather.”
Imperial Commander has yet to tackle the Aintree fences, but Costello was confident they would not pose a problem for the 2010 Gold Cup winner. He said, “If he did run in the National off his current mark (158) then I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t take to the Aintree fences. The way he jumps suggests he should cope well with them.”
That’s fair enough. A much bigger question in my mind is how much you can expect of a horse over the marathon distance in only his second race in two years.