|Leading fancy Mon Parrain out of Bet365 Gold Cup|
The Paul Nicholls-trained Mon Parrain will miss next Saturday's big race at Sandown Park, the Bet365 Gold Cup (formerly known as the Whitbread Gold Cup), and has been sent off to a summer break, writes Elliot Slater.
A 7/1 chance with the sponsors, the precocious five-year-old had looked a certain winner of last week's Topham Trophy Handicap Chase at Aintree having put up an exhibition round of jumping over the awesome spruce fences (especially for such a young horse).
Sent clear of his rivals on the long run-in (where he trained at 1.04 in running), Mon Parrain suddenly appeared to run out of gas having given no previous hint that he was coming to the end of his tether.
A tremendous late sustained run from the previous year's winner Always Waining carried the 10-year-old into the lead at the elbow, from where he went on to beat Nicholls' horse by four-lengths, the pair finishing clear of the rest.
Bookmakers reacted by immediately installing the ex-French gelding as a market principal for the Sandown contest, but writing in his daily blog on Friday, Paul Nicholls made it clear that Mon Parrain would not be seen again this season and that he is still baffled as to why he suddenly ground to a halt at Aintree having appeared to have the race in the bag.
Nicholls also suggested that Cheltenham Gold Cup third Kauto Star is far from a certain runner in the Esher contest with connections mulling a bid for the Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup as an alternative on May 4.
Following the scratching of Mon Parrain from the race Kauto Star remains an 8/1 co-favourite with Aintree Fox Hunters winner Baby Run and the useful Balthazar King, whilst Philip Hobbs' tough campaigner Wishfull Thinking can be backed at 9/1. They go 10/1 bar.