Alpha Centauri and Saxon Warrior retired through injury

Havana Grey gives trainer Karl Burke a ‘Champions Weekend’ Group One double

Jessica Harrington’s Alpha Centauri (L) has been retired through injury a day after her shock loss to Laurens at Leopardstown. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty

Jessica Harrington’s Alpha Centauri (L) has been retired through injury a day after her shock loss to Laurens at Leopardstown. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty

 

Saturday’s ‘Irish Champions Weekend’ programme at Leopardstown has had a bitter twist by proving to be the final instalment in the racing careers of both Alpha Centauri and Saxon Warrior.

The two runners-up in Saturday’s Group One races sustained career-ending leg injuries with their retirement confirmed less than 24 hours later.

Alpha Centauri, the top rated European three-year-old filly, saw her winning streak end in dramatic style in the Coolmore Matron Stakes, the 3-10 favourite finishing runner up to Laurens.

In the immediate aftermath she was reported ‘clinically abnormal’ after a veterinary inspection.

However x-rays on Sunday revealed the Jessica Harrington star has a chip on a fetlock joint and the decision was quickly taken to retire her.

"The decision has been taken to retire Alpha Centauri on veterinary advice and on consultation with Jessie,” said Alan Cooper, racing manager to the filly’s owners, Flaxman Holdings.

"She had a chip on her right front fetlock, which you could see her feeling in the closing stages. It’s not a catastrophic injury and hopefully she can enjoy a successful career as a broodmare,” he added.  

Saxon Warrior emerged on the wrong side of an epic QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes finish with his old rival Roaring Lion but has been found to have suffered a tendon injury.

"He badly damaged his tendon in the race,” his trainer Aidan O’Brien said on Sunday about the Japanese-bred star who won the 2,000 Guineas in May. “It’s a big pity. He was an amazing horse.”

Saxon Warrior’s future is as a stallion next year but it is next month’s Champion Stakes at Newmarket which looks a likely option next for Roaring Lion.

Killarney-born jockey Oisin Murphy won his first ever race in Ireland earlier on the card on Willie Mullins’s Limini and admitted to “learning on the job” about the Leopardstown track.

Havana Grey’s victory at the Curragh gave Karl Burke a second Group One success of the weekend. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Havana Grey’s victory at the Curragh gave Karl Burke a second Group One success of the weekend. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

The 23-year-old Kerryman is clearly a quick learner as despite Saxon Warrior getting first run on his old rival in the straight Murphy and Roaring Lion pounced late to win.

Inevitably Saxon Warrior’s injury puts a different complexion on the outcome of Saturday’s big race, something that also applies to Alpha Centauri’s Matron effort with Jessica Harrington commenting: “In the circumstances she ran a brilliant race.”

Laurens’ trainer Karl Burke enjoyed a superb ‘Champions Weekend’ by completing a Group One double through Havana Grey in Sunday’s Derrinstown Stud Flying Five at the Curragh.

However the Yorkshire based trainer acknowledged: “It’s a shame what happened to the favourite (Alpha Centauri.) But it shows you never be afraid of one horse.”

Newmarket’s Sun Chariot Stakes looks like the next target for Laurens while the Prix de l’Abbaye on Arc day may be next for Havana Grey after his first top-flight victory.

It was the first time for the Flying Five as a Group One and Burke admitted: “I was very surprised the way the race broke up but I’m not going to complain about it.

"It’s what dreams are made of. If someone said at the start of the year you’ll have two Group One winners on a weekend, you’d think they were dreaming.”

Saturday’s official 14,226 attendance at Leopardstown was the second highest of the five ‘Irish Champions Weekend’ dates held at the south Dublin track to date. Only 2016’s tally of 14,550 exceeded Saturday’s figure which saw an increase from last year’s 13,689.

After a weekend of elite flat action the National Hunt scene resumes at Galway on Monday and Willie Mullins looks set for a successful evening.

Thrones Game makes his jumping debut in the Footpad colours in the opening maiden hurdle while Pont Alexandere’s half sister, Pont Aval, will be a focus of attention, in the bumper.

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