Another Dubai mission is turning to disaster for Manfred Man Ka-leung's injury-prone sprinter Eagle Regiment, who is battling lameness and seems in severe doubt to take his place in Saturday's Al Quoz Sprint.
Emirates Racing Authority vets described Eagle Regiment as a "day-by-day" proposition and the five-year-old has until tomorrow morning to prove his fitness, or he will be withdrawn from the US$1 million straight race for the second consecutive year.
In somewhat similar circumstances to 12 months ago, Eagle Regiment seemingly went from being sound to sore - this time in his left fore hoof - in the space of a few hours.
"I trotted him up on Sunday night and he was perfect, but something has happened, because the next morning he came out and he was lame," said ERA veterinary steward David Sykes.
"If it was 24 hours before race time, and he was like I saw him today, he would not be racing. The fact that I saw him 12 hours before that, tells you that something has happened - so therefore you've got to be concerned. We aren't going to know the outcome of the recovery, because we don't know how it was done. It's an inflammatory response in his hoof - whether it some bruising or something else going on there, but the farriers do not think it is an abscess."
Eagle Regiment is having ongoing treatment on the hoof - including some old fashioned natural therapies like ice - but last night's medication was the last he could have pre-race.
Skykes said Eagle Regiment would be granted, "as much time as possible" and that he "genuinely wants the horse to start", but tomorrow looms as D-day for the horse when he will face a final and stringent vet check.
"We will make a decision on how he is moving and whether he starts or not then," Skykes said. "From a wagering point of view we need to make a decision by Thursday afternoon. I would need to be pretty confident on Thursday afternoon that I had a horse I could race on Saturday. If I wasn't sure by then, we wouldn't be being fair from a welfare point of view, and from a wagering point of view it wouldn't be fair to punters."
But should Eagle Regiment's condition worsen overnight, it is possible he could come out today. "Hopefully he improves, but if he if he is worse, then I might be saying to the guys that it wouldn't be fair to go on," Sykes said.
Last year Eagle Regiment was withdrawn on race day after injuring a right hind leg, possibly while in his box. He was sidelined for nearly 12 months but returned with a Group One win in last month's Kent & Curwin Centenary Sprint Cup.