The new season is still six days from opening but Hong Kong’s elite stocks have already taken a hammer blow with reigning Horse of the Year Werther ruled out for three months after suffering a freak injury at trackwork on Saturday.

Last season’s Derby and QE II Cup hero soared into the ranks of the world’s best racehorses in April, but is now certain to miss the Longines Hong Kong International Races meeting in December.

However, trainer John Moore said he expects to have Werther back to his best in the second half of the season.

“He is a very aggressive horse and he can do this sort of thing at times. He was coming off the track after working and tried to kick another horse, a horse from another stable, and he missed and slipped over,” Moore said.

“In doing that, he has injured a suspensory behind and it is very similar to the injury that Dominant suffered.

“He will be out for three months and that means the internationals are scratched, but Werther should be right for the big spring races.”

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On the positive side, the return of Moore’s champion miler Able Friend is imminent and he will take a similar path to the one he took towards the Hong Kong Mile in 2015, resuming in the Premier Bowl over 1,200m then taking in the Jockey Club Mile on the way to the Hong Kong Mile.

Able Friend has not run since the Hong Kong Mile in December after pulling up with a right front foot injury, and has been recuperating in Australia, where he was attended by vet Ben Mason, formerly Moore’s vet when he worked at the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

WATCH Werther completes Hong Kong Derby and QE II Cup double

“He arrives Sunday night, Monday morning and he comes back with a clean bill of health from Ben,” Moore said.

“His injury has healed, Ben is confident about him. We just have to take really good care of his feet but, as far as I’m concerned, we will see Able Friend back to his best again.”