"He's alright but he just didn't feel right and the best thing to do then is give up, isn't it?"
Faugheen just didn't feel right for Ruby Walsh.
The Kildare pilot has had many memorable days in the saddle with Willie Mullins' majestic 11-year-old, but Thursday wasn't one of those and the fear is now that we may have seen the last of him on a racecourse.
Only a couple of jumps in and with the field heading down the back straight in the Aintree hurdle, the machine came under pressure and after pushing him on for a couple of strides, Ruby opted to pull him up.
"He just wasn't going Alice," said Ruby to ITV afterwards. "He jumped alright over the first but by the time we faced down the bottom, he was lifeless. Really backed off the third last, Melon and Buveur D'Air were running over me, he just didn't feel right.
"He's sound, he's alright but he just didn't feel right and the best thing to do then is to give up, isn't it?
Ruby Walsh update on Faugheen via @itvracing
"He jumped the first alright but by the time we faced down the bottom, he was lifeless.
"He's sound, he's alright but he just didn't feel right and the best thing to do then is to give up, isn't it?"pic.twitter.com/GzyXo6luQG
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) April 4, 2019
Credit where credit is due to Walsh, who aware that his mount wasn't on top form, took the cautious decision of pulling him out in case of injury or stress.
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) April 4, 2019
Another Irish horse went onto win the race in Jessica Harrington's Supasundae, the sprightly stayer slogging it out under Robbie Power to hold off Buveur D'Air up the run in.
Ever since suffering a ligament injury in the build-up to the 2016 champion hurdle, Faugheen has been more hit and miss than irresistible - only winning two of his eight starts since returning - and a non-finish in the 2019 Aintree hurdle may spell the end of the road.
The horse racing world thanked one of the game's most electrifying with the horse now expected to retire.
— Liam Farrell (@drlfarrell) April 4, 2019
— Matt Chapman (@MCYeeehaaa) April 4, 2019