Barry Geraghty's hopes of steering Anibale Fly to Grand National glory tomorrow evening were shattered at Aintree today after the jockey was hospitalised with a suspected broken leg.
The retained rider of JP McManus was riding Peregrine Run in today's Topham Handicap Chase when the Peter Fahey runner fell at the famous Becher's Brook fence, three from the finish.
It was another runner, it seems, that ultimately did the damage after the former Champion Jockey was kicked on the ground by one of the other runners in the race.
Geraghty won the Aintree Festival showpiece on one other occasion, aboard Monty's Pass in 2003, but the Tony Martin-trained runner was fancied by many to bridge a 16-year gap for Geraghty after being pipped into second place during last month's Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Moreover, the horse ran home in a commendable fourth place in last year's running of the race after finishing third in last year's Gold Cup, too.
If only to compound his misery, Mark Walsh replaced Geraghty aboard the favourite, Champ, in the Doom Bar Sefton Novices' Hurdle just after the Topham Handicap Chase, and the Nicky Henderson runner romped home in style to claim the Grade One.
Top-class performer - Champ lives up to his name in the Sefton Novices' Hurdle for Mark Walsh and @sevenbarrows! @AintreeRaces pic.twitter.com/xyNemDj0Q3
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) April 5, 2019
Walsh is likely to take over from Geraghty aboard Anibale Fly in tomorrow's main event, while Anthony Honeyball looks like he may have to find a replacement at late notice to sit on Regal Encore, the runner the jockey was initially due to ride in the race.
Meanwhile, it was another successful day for the Irish at the Liverpool venue with both Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott saddling a double on the day, after Mullins, Jessica Harrington and Henry De Bromhead saddled individual winners yesterday.
As we stand, Elliott and Mullins look set to saddle the top two runners in market for tomorrow's race, with both Tiger Roll and Rathvinden heavily fancied by punters.