By Jon Lees
Australia: Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet has been euthanised after suffering a catastrophic leg injury during preparation for a second tilt at Australia’s biggest weight-for-age contest.
A week ahead of the big race the former Aidan O’Brien-trained horse broke down during routine exercise at Moonee Valley and vets were unable to save him.
“We‘re heartbroken to announce that Sir Dragonet has broken down during a piece of work at Moonee Valley this morning and was euthanised on course,” Ciaron Maher Racing said in a statement.
“In the year that the Dragon has been in our care, he has won our hearts with his exploits both on and off the track.
“Our condolences go out to his owners, connections and all who cared for this wonderful horse. It has left a hole in our hearts but we‘re forever thankful for our time with him and he will forever remain a Cox Plate champion.”
Sir Dragonet, a five-year-old son of Camelot, started favourite for the 2019 Derby after bursting onto the Classic scene with an eight lengths win in the Chester Vase.
He finished fifth at Epsom, beaten less than a length, and after failing to add to his tally was bought by Australian property developer Ozzie Kheir and put into training with Ciaron Maher and David Eustace,for whom he won the Cox Plate, beating former stablemate Armory. He added a second G1 this year when he landed the Tancred Stakes in April.
Speaking later about the accident on Channel 7, Maher said: “He was just doing a routine gallop at the Valley, his preparation was going very similar to last year and Ben Allen, who knows the horse quite well, was sitting off another horse and they hadn’t really got into their work yet.
“Between the 1000m and the half mile, just starting to increase, he said whether he put his foot down a bit funny, he sustained a catastrophic injury to his near fore leg. It’s a pretty hard pill to swallow.
“So much respect for the horse and what he’s done. He was probably not too far off having a career at stud. The staff and everyone, he was obviously a favourite, so it was a tough day for the stable.”