Beauchene favourite after Tidal Bay injury
PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE was made outright favourite for the John Smith's Grand National with William Hill on Thursday, after champion trainer Paul Nicholls revealed top-weight and ante-post gamble Tidal Bay would miss the race through injury.
Pricewise selection Tidal Bay had been cut to 14-1 (from 25) for the world's most famous chase after weights for the April 6 marathon were revealed on Tuesday. However, Graham Wylie's 12-year-old was discovered to have suffered a stress fracture on Thursday, ending his quest for National glory before it had begun.
Writing on his Betfair column, the champion trainer said: "I have got some bad news to report. Tidal Bay is out of the Grand National.
"As previously mentioned, he was slightly lame before the Argento and we couldn't get him ready in time for that race, or the Irish Hennessy.
"He was out cantering as usual on Monday and Tuesday, but on Wednesday we decided to step up his work.
"But his work rider came back up and said he didn't feel right.
"So we immediately called in [vet] Buffy [Shirley-Beavan] and, after discussions, we got him down to Newmarket today for an MRI scan.
"The news through from Buffy is that Tidal Bay has a tiny stress fracture of the lower cannon bone on his right hind leg. This is something that the x-rays we took before his problem in the Argento didn't pick up; only today's MRI did.
"He needs a month's box rest, so that rules out the National."
Nicky Henderson: cut for the trainers' championshipPICTURE: Hugh Routledge
The loss of his Nicholls' number-one candidate will inevitably be seen as a blow to his chances of resisting long odds-on favourite Nicky Henderson in the trainers' championship, a fact not lost on Coral, who eased Nicholls to 4-1 (from 3-1) to retain his title, with rival Henderson cut to 1-7 (from 1-5).
Coral's David Stevens said: "Despite being given top-weight, Paul Nicholls felt Tidal Bay had been handed a chance in the National, and punters agreed, backing him from 25-1 down to 14-1, so news of his injury has come as a huge blow to backers, as well as weakening his trainer's chances of holding on to the championship."
With Tidal Bay ruled out of the National, the weights will rise at least 2lb with Albertas Run the new top-weight.
Tidal Bay's injury also caused ripples in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle market on Thursday, with Oscar Whisky, Reve De Sivola and Monksland all backed for the staying hurdle crown.