Star Singapore speedster Inferno has been withdrawn from the Group One Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) after failing a vet inspection at Sha Tin on Tuesday afternoon.
The dual Singapore Group One winner was rated a $10 chance by overseas fixed-odds bookmakers but the Cliff Brown-trained four-year-old will have to wait to test himself at the top level.
“It’s unfortunate that Singapore looks like they’ve got such a nice horse and it would have been great to see him compete against our horses here, but there’s no use competing if you’re not right – it’s an unfair fight,” said jockey Zac Purton, who was set to be in the saddle at Sha Tin on Sunday.
“The welfare of the horse comes first and there’s no use taking any risks with him. He’s lame – they think they know what it is but they’re not sure, so there’s no use taking the risk.”
Inferno, who was found to be lame in the left front leg, was one of three overseas raiders entered for the Sprint, along with Japanese pair Tower Of London and Danon Smash.
“It’s especially disappointing to lose this horse because he was a Singapore runner and there was an unknown quantity about him that you didn’t know how good he was,” Jockey Club director of racing business and operations Bill Nader said.
“This was going to be his opportunity to face tough competition. But these things happen and invariably for a big event like this there will always be that occasion where a horse has to drop out on veterinary grounds.”
Purton will now ride Jimmy Ting Koon-ho’s Amazing Star in the Sprint – who was promoted to the field after Perfect Match broke down on Monday.
Stronger will also come off the reserve list and take his place in the race, with trainer Douglas Whyte confirming to the Post that the four-year-old colt will line up on Sunday afternoon.
After a glittering career as a jockey, Stronger will be Whyte’s first runner as a trainer in the Hong Kong International Races features and just his second at Group One level.
Inferno’s scratching comes on the same day as some more positive news for another Sprint entrant, with Caspar Fownes confident Everest winner Classique Legend is on the right track after long urging caution with his superstar.
While Classique Legend has been locked in a race against time to be at his best come
international day, the five-year-old showed improvement in a gallop on Tuesday morning to give Fownes renewed confidence.