Champion lame, while Power has back problem

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 February, 2008, 12:00am

Mixed reaction from Hall and O'Sullivan to vets' bad news

David Hall got news he didn't want but rival trainer Paul O'Sullivan was considerably happier with his bad news in the fallout from Sunday's Group One Chairman's Sprint Prize.

Brett Prebble's report to stewards that Absolute Champion's action had changed in the final stages of the race hinted all too strongly that all was not right with the Hall-trained sprinter and it was confirmed yesterday.

Jockey Club head vet Brian Stewart examined Absolute Champion yesterday morning and the gelding was lame in his right front leg, something Hall confirmed as an old, recurrent issue for the sprinter.

'It's nothing we won't be able to get on top of, let's put it that way,' Hall said. 'He's had an issue with his feet and on a slightly firmer track on Sunday, he just felt it in the final 200 metres. But it shows you how much courage this horse has - he's run the best sprinter in the world at the moment to 11/2 lengths with soreness in a foot and not being able to fully let go. That's another big tick against his name in my book.'

Absolute Champion's next target is a rematch with Sacred Kingdom and Good Ba Ba in the Group One Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup next month over 1,400m, but forgotten star Medic Power's plans are up in the air, despite positive news.

Medic Power was eased out by jockey Douglas Whyte after he felt the horse to be in pain. O'Sullivan cleared Medic Power on Sunday of a recurrence of the heart irregularity which halted his season last November, but admitted to being baffled.

He was in brighter spirits yesterday after identifying a back problem.

'Once Medic Power had cooled down, it was obvious he was feeling quite acute back pain - certainly enough to have stopped him on Sunday,' O'Sullivan said.

'Now, in my book, if you're going to have a problem, this is one of the better ones to have because there are things you can do about it. My vet Michael Hurley and I went over him and when we'd finished, Michael looked at me and said he thought the back is the only thing wrong with him. Where he'll race again, I don't know, but once the horse is comfortable and pain free again, I'll trial him and we'll go from there.'

Meanwhile, star four-year-old Helene Mascot came through his second in the Mercedes-Benz Derby Trial without a problem, prompting trainer Tony Cruz to declare 'full steam ahead' for the HK$16 million Derby on March 16.

'He has come through the race extremely well, I couldn't be happier,' said Cruz. 'It looks as though the foot problem is behind him now. He'll be significantly improved by Sunday's race and I can concentrate on training him properly for the Derby.'

A problem with corns on one of his front feet had forced Helene Mascot to miss work in the lead-up to Sunday's Trial and he raced far too fresh, giving jockey Felix Coetzee a torrid time as he overraced throughout and it was a remarkable effort to run second.