Kevin Chapman admits it hurts.

Less than a month from the race every Cantabrian wants to win most, Chapman has been forced to pull his pride and joy Locharburn out of the New Zealand Trotting Cup.

Just a few weeks ago the Easter Cup winner looked a serious chance in our greatest race but those dreams ended with a dramatic failure in the Canterbury Classic at Addington on Friday night.

"It looks like he suffered an atrial fibrillation, so his Cup campaign is over," said the owner-trainer.


"Some horses can fibrillate and race the next week but I wouldn't take that chance with a horse as good as him, racing horses as good as he has to.

"And Josh [Dickie, driver] said he felt rough in his gait, almost like he has broken down late in the race so something clearly isn't right.

"It is a real blow for us because the Cup is the race we wanted the most and now it throws the season into a big of disarray.

"If he recovers quickly he could still make the free-for-all [November 11] but we won't know that for a while."

Locharburn joins Australian Philadelphia Man as the high-profile pacers out of a Cup, which looks certain not to attract a full field of 15.

Those who will definitely be there barring injury or dramatic form loss are Lazarus, Have Faith In Me, Smolda, Christen Me, Franco Nelson, Mossdale Conner, Tiger Tara, Titan Banner. No Doctor Needed and Messini, who confirmed his trip by winning at Melton on Saturday night.

That is 10, while others like Brilliant Strike, Seel The Deal, Quick As A Trick and Mighty Flying Mac would appear outclassed but could line up because the field is starting to fall away, numbers-wise if not in quality.

The next stop on the road to the Cup is at Alexandra Park for No Doctor Needed, the sole northerner still in the running for the race, but more importantly the Methven Cup on Sunday, where Titan Banner resumes against Smolda.