Ever-popular Yorkhill retired due to injury

Trainer Sandy Thomson hailed Yorkhill a “superstar” after confirming the dual Cheltenham Festival hero had been retired due to injury.

The 11-year-old claimed back-to-back victories at the showpiece meeting when trained in Ireland by Willie Mullins – landing the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle in 2016 and JLT Novices’ Chase 12 months later, but subsequently lost his form.

After owners Graham and Andrea Wylie opted to take a break from racing last year, Yorkhill moved across the Irish Sea prior to the start of this season to run in the colours of David Armstrong, his wife Donna and top golfer Lee Westwood.

And while he was pulled up on his first run for his new connections in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October, the following month he rolled back the years to land a popular all-the-way victory in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle.

However, having suffered a tendon injury when being prepared to run in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster last month, time has now been called on the mercurial gelding’s racing career.

Thomson said: “It’s disappointing news, but it’s been a huge privilege to train Yorkhill – I can’t thank Dave and Donna and Lee enough.

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Yorkhill and Ruby Walsh on the way to victory at Cheltenham in 2017
Yorkhill and Ruby Walsh on the way to victory at Cheltenham in 2017 (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It was a very special day when he won the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle. It was great for everybody, including all of Dave’s staff, who did a lot of hard work with him before he came to us.

“He’s going out in one piece, he’ll have another life and he’ll love it.

“We’re lucky that we’ve been involved with such a superstar.”

Yorkhill won 11 of his 27 races under rules, amassing almost £350,000 in win and place prize-money.

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