A Grand National Update

Balthazar King’s trainer Philip Hobbs has taken to Facebook to quell fears regarding his star cross country chaser. Last season’s Grand National runner-up looked to be in a sorry state after suffering a terrible fall at the Canal Turn in Saturday’s renewal, bringing down Ruby Walsh on Ballycasey. The horse’s still frame could be seen in the back of shot as his rivals negotiated the same fence for the first time. Further concern was expressed as this fence was bypassed the second time round allowing vets and specialists to treat the injured animal.

After the race, the four-time winner of Cheltenham’s Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase was taken to the local Liverpool Equine Hospital for further treatment.

On the social media website yesterday Hobbs wrote: ‘Balthazar King has had a good 24 hours and [is] making steady progress. He has broken a couple of ribs and is very sore but is eating and seems bright in himself. Thank you for all your kind messages of support. We will keep you updated.’

This post prompted more well wishes from fans as well as calls to retire the horse. The latter of these supporters feel Balthazar King has nothing left to prove after his many and varied achievements. Such positivity drowned out the very few shouts of animal cruelty from those sections of the public passionately against the Grand National event and horse racing more generally. Positive messages of support can still be left on Philip Hobbs’ Facebook page. Hobbs, who has all social media bases covered, can also be found on Twitter – @Pjhobbs1.

Such superb news means that there have not been any equine fatalities in the Grand National in the last three runnings, a vast improvement on the race’s previous record and something that has much to do with changes to the course adopted in 2013. With such a close shave with Balthazar King, however, does even more need to be done to counter the risk?

There has also been an update on the condition of jockey Davy Condon who sustained concussion when falling from Portrait King just three obstacles from home. Speaking of the jockey who spent a night in Aintree Hospital as a precautionary measure, the horse’s trainer Maurice Phelan told the BBC:

‘He [Condon] was fully awake and talking, but they wanted to give him a scan just in case and thankfully it’s come back clear. He has concussion, but everything is fine. The horse is [also] fine.’

In other news from Saturday’s spectacular, both 14-year-old Oscar Time and 13-year-old Tranquil Sea will be enjoying their respective retirements after completing the course in 15th and seventh position.

The former had previously finished second (2011) and fourth (2013) in the race but will no longer be taking to the track after his jockey Sam Waley-Cohen took to Twitter to say that whilst the horse ‘ran his heart out’, ‘time has caught up with him’.

Speaking of Tranquil Sea, trainer Warren Greatrex told Sky Sports: ‘He’s been brilliant. He’s 13 and he gave it everything. He was very tired afterwards and I don’t want to ask any more questions of him.

‘He’ll have a great retirement.’

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