Leopardstown ground ‘not to blame’ for career-ending injuries

Trainers not pointing fingers over leg problems to Saxon Warrior and Alpha Centauri

Neither Aidan O'Brien or Jessica Harrington believe the state of the Leopardstown ground had anything to do with the career-ending injuries sustained there on Saturday by Saxon Warrior and Alpha Centauri.

Both trainers said no blame could be attached to the going at Leopardstown for the leg problems that have finished the racing careers of their three-year-old stars.

Alpha Centauri was dramatically defeated as 3-10 favourite for the Coolmore Matron Stakes and a day later was retired after a bone chip in a fetlock joint was discovered.

Saxon Warrior was narrowly beaten in a dramatic finish to the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes by Roaring Lion and was subsequently found to have injured a tendon during the race.


Both Group One races took place on officially “good to firm” ground on Leopardstown’s outer track, which hadn’t been watered the day before, unlike the inner course, which had.

Another leading trainer, Ger Lyons, criticised the state of the ground on Saturday and withdrew three horses from the card.

On his website Lyons described the going as “far too quick with an awful cover of grass”. Other racing professionals privately expressed their unease with how fast the going was and pointed to how the inner course was watered on Friday but not the outer.

‘No jar’

Speculation was widespread as to whether or not the ground was linked to the injuries suffered by the two classic winners. However, Harrington and O’Brien were adamant on Tuesday that wasn’t the case.

“If you walk down the pavement and suddenly your ankle turns over, you hurt yourself. And then you look back and it’s perfectly smooth. It’s just one of those things that happen,” Harrington said.

“Alpha Centauri is back in her stable at Coolmore and will have eight weeks’ box rest. She’s run on good firm ground all summer. All I can say is the rest of my horses have come back with no problem. There were a couple I probably shouldn’t have run but they’ve come back fine. It was just one of those things,” she added.

O’Brien described the going at Leopardstown as “perfect” and described the grass cover as “very good”.

Asked if there was blame attached to the ground at Leopardstown for Saxon Warrior’s injury he replied: “None whatsoever. It was proper good to firm flat racing ground with no jar.”

The champion trainer added: “Usually in the autumn it’s slower, and good ground horses are in trouble at this time of year. This was proper flat racing ground and we were lucky to get it.

“People with fast ground horses were delighted and people with soft ground horses felt it was too quick. But that’s just the way it is. You have to be fair to everyone and in my opinion that’s the way it should always be. If it’s soft that’s the way it is and if it’s the other way that’s the way it is. This was proper safe ground.”

Chicas Amigas

In other news Harrington will wait for the return from Canada of her smart two-year-old Chicas Amigas to see if she will run again this season.

Chicas Amigas disappointed on her first start for new owners Qatar Racing in the Grade One Natalma Stakes on Sunday night and was out of the money behind the Godolphin winner La Pelosa.

“It was very, very hot and she got overheated both before and during the race,” Harrington explained. “She is coming back to me on the plane on Thursday but I have no idea what we’ll do until I see what she’s like.”

In other big race news Roaring Lion tightened into 5-4 favourite with some firms for next month's Champion Stakes at Ascot after news that Poet's Word is out for the season with an injury.

The Prince of Wales’s Stakes and King George hero was an unlucky runner-up to Roaring Lion in last month’s Juddmonte in York.

However, his trainer, Michael Stoute, reported on Tuesday: "Poet's Word has sustained an injury and will not be able to race again this year. His owner, Saeed Suhail, will soon be coming to England and will make a decision on his future."

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column