In a big blow to connections – and Hong Kong racing – Classique Legend will return to Australia after bleeding at trackwork at Sha Tin on Wednesday morning.

Trainer Caspar Fownes confirmed the move after the gun grey was hit with a compulsory three-month ban, forcing him to miss Monday’s Group Two Sprint Cup and the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize on April 25.

Classique Legend will now go home to the Sydney stables of Les Bridge and will try to defend his title in the Everest in October.

“He was absolutely flying. We got him to where we wanted to get him and then he comes back, he coughs a couple of times and there is a little trickle of blood and I have to call it unfortunately,” Fownes told the Post.

Caspar Fownes and his sons watch Classique Legend work.

“It’s very sad, but these things happen. He was ready to rock n’ roll – he was only getting better and better.

“I called [owner Boniface Ho Ka-kui] straight away, of course. I said, ‘look this is what happened, it’s very unfortunate, it’s a sad day for us’.

“We were getting him where we wanted to get him and Zac [Purton] was very happy with him, but the right thing to do is to send him back to Australia because he’s just finding it hard in this environment to really cope. We’ve done everything we can.

Everest champ Classique Legend to take on the world from Hong Kong

“The horse is intact, he’s going to be fine. He’ll go back to Australia and they’ll give him back to Mr Bridge and, god willing, they can win the Everest again.

“I think that’s the right way to go. ‘Bon’ was very good, obviously saddened by what’s happened but he’s taken the news as well as you can take it.

“We’ll basically just let him relax and chill out and then the next flight we can get him on is at the end of May. So we’ll get him on that and it will give Mr Bridge enough time to prepare him for the big race.”

The five-year-old, who was the equal highest-rated sprinter in the world last year after his stunning win in the Everest, struggled to acclimatise to life in the city, finishing 11th in December’s Group One Hong Kong Sprint.

After that race, Fownes sent him across the border to the Jockey Club’s Conghua facility to recover and has built him up slowly, with the five-year-old looking back on track with a brilliant win in a barrier trial against some of the city’s best horses last week.

Zac Purton commits to Classique Legend after strong trial at Sha Tin

Purton committed to ride after that performance and was aboard during Classique Legend’s workout on Wednesday morning – a 1,200m hit-out on the Sha Tin turf with The Hulk.

The loss of Classique Legend is a big blow to the elite Hong Kong sprinting ranks, which need a new banner horse after the retirement of stalwarts like Mr Stunning and Beat The Clock, among others, in the past 12 months.

With Group One winner Hot King Prawn also scratched from Monday’s Sprint Cup, Richard Gibson’s rising star Wellington is set to start favourite.