Niche Market ruled out of National

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Niche Market (l) jumping alongside eventual winner Ballabriggs in the 2011 Grand National.

Niche Market has been ruled out of next month’s John Smith’s Grand National.

The 11-year-old ran a cracking trial for the Aintree feature when beaten just half a length in a veterans’ race at Newbury last Saturday.

However, trainer Paul Nicholls has confirmed Niche Market, who finished fifth in the race last year and was a general 20-1 shot, will miss the 14 April contest.

Nicholls tweeted: “More bad news to report I am afraid. Niche Market misses the Grand National. More details to follow later this morning.”

Nicholls explained that Niche Market, who was pulled up in the 2010 National, has suffered a recurrence of an old problem he first suffered after last year’s Aintree spectacular.

The Ditcheat trainer said in his Betfair column: “He finished a bit jarred up on both forelegs after last year’s race but they soon settled down.

“But we have kept an eye on them since and last night on our evening rounds we noticed something that we weren’t happy with.

“So we had him scanned this morning and that revealed a small bit of damage in a leg, and that doesn’t give us enough time to get him right for Aintree.

“It’s very frustrating for all concerned and just goes to show once again just how fragile horses are.”

Nicholls now has just one possible contender for the National with recent Haydock second Neptune Collonges his sole entry.

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