Jockey Timmy Murphy has been ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival in March due to injury.
The 2008 Grand National-winning rider will play no part in the centrepiece of jumps racing after he suffered a dislocated shoulder for a second time in three months in January.
Murphy must now undergo corrective surgery on the troublesome injury. The jockey’s agent, Chris Broad, said: “The only light at the end of the tunnel is that he is going to have an operation on the shoulder. I spoke to him on Monday and it [the shoulder] is fine, but he needs to address the problem once and for all. That’s going to rule him out of Cheltenham, unfortunately, but he needs to get it right.”
Murphy, who has secured eight winners at the Festival, suffered a recurrence of the injury in an accident at his home in Gloucestershire. The 39-year-old first dislocated the joint at Newbury in November following an altercation with fellow jockey Dominic Elsworth, for which he was banned nine days by the British Horseracing Authority.
Meanwhile, Davy Russell played down speculation Burton Port could be his mount for the Crabbie’s Grand National, even though an intriguing new partnership is established at Doncaster today.
The Irish jockey will partner the Jonjo O’Neill-trained ten-year-old for the first time in a veterans’ chase over three miles, his only mount at the South Yorkshire circuit.
Burton Port was not far off top class in his pomp, having finished fourth in a Gold Cup and second in a RSA Chase, when trained by Nicky Henderson. His form since transferring to O’Neill’s yard last October is less inspiring, but Burton Port remains a lively ante-post outsider for the National, for which he must carry 10st 8lb. Russell was, however, keen to quell the notion that his Doncaster alliance with the Trevor Hemmings-owned stayer is a dress rehearsal for Aintree in April.
He said: “I don’t think that [the Grand National] is anything to do with it. It’s a bit of a coincidence more than anything. Jonjo [O’Neill] rang me the other day and asked me if I’d ride him.
“He’s ten, but he’s not had that much racing and has has a lot of ability. Doncaster’s a good track and I’m looking forward to the ride.”
On the Flat, La Estrella’s bid for a record-equalling 25th victory on the all-weather will have to wait after the veteran suffered a splint problem.
Don Cantillon’s 11-year-old, who has also won one race on the turf and over hurdles, got to within one triumph of the standard set by China Castle with a hard-fought success at Lingfield in the middle of January.
He was due to line-up in a Southwell seller a couple of weeks later, but was withdrawn at the 11th hour after a late setback. Cantillon said: “Unfortunately he has a splint problem. It’s hugely disappointing as he would have taken a bit of beating.”