Blaklion has been ruled out of the Randox Health Grand National after suffering a setback.
The 10-year-old was set to make his debut for trainer Phil Kirby and owners Darren and Annaley Yates at Aintree having been bought out of Nigel Twiston-Davies’ yard in February.
However, Kirby took him out of the extended four-and-a-quarter-mile feature on Friday morning and the 2017 Becher Chase winner may now be finished for the season.
He said: “He’s got a back joint problem and he won’t be running next week.
“I’m disappointed, the owners really wanted to have a National runner and we’ve done everything we can to get him there in one piece.
“It’s not something that will stop him forever, but most likely for this season.”
Another ruled out with a late setback was Dr Richard Newland’s Abolitionist.
The fragile 11-year-old suffered a stress fracture during one of his final pieces of work.
“Unfortunately he’s out of the National, he’s out for the season,” said Newland.
“Hopefully he’ll be back next autumn, but this has happened two years in a row now so we’re struggling a bit.
“It’s very frustrating. He’s only got a stress fracture of his tibia, a common racing injury, but he’s a bit delicate.
“To get so close – all the owners are gutted, but it is what it is. That’s racehorses.”