Sunnyhillboy withdrawn from the 2014 Grand National

2012 Grand National runner-up Sunnyhillboy will miss next Saturday’s big race after being withdrawn.

Trainer Jonjo O’Neill said the 11 year-old, who was beaten by a nose by Neptune Collonges two years ago, was “lacking sparkle”.

Sunnyhillboy, a 16/1 shot with Paddy Power, had been been receiving a lot of ante-post backing lately following rumours that 18-time champion jockey AP McCoy might take the ride at Aintree on 5 April. McCoy now looks likely to ride either of owner JP McManus’ other likely Grand National runners, Double Seven or Colbert Station.

“He’s been a super horse for us but he just didn’t sparkle in his work [on Friday morning],” O’Neill said. “Going for a race like that you have to be spot on and he just hasn’t done what we’d have wanted in his last few bits of work.”

Sunnyhillboy was undoubtedly a big “trends” horse having previously shown his stamina over the Grand National course, but it’s fair to say he’s never really hit the heights of two years ago and it feels like his best chance of National glory went with that agonising defeat in 2012.

70 horses remain entered for the big race at Aintree on April 5th.The field will be whittled down to 40 following the five day declaration stage on Monday 31st March.

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