Superstar three-year-old Hitotsu has been ruled out of the upcoming Spring Carnival with a suspensory injury.
Ciaron Maher Racing confirmed the injury to the three-time Group 1 winner via a statement released late on Monday afternoon.
“The stable regretfully announces that Hitotsu has sustained an injury to his suspensory branch in his near foreleg,” the statement read.
“We are currently in discussions with the ownership group regarding his racing future.
“It’s a devastating blow for his owners, the stable and his legion of fans that will see him miss this year’s Spring Carnival.
“He is a talented, tough horse who we believe we have not seen the best of yet, and are hopeful for a speedy recovery.
“Successful rehabilitation would see him return to racing in the Autumn of 2023, if it’s decided he will race on. Any decision made on his future will be communicated in due course.”
The suspensory injury also rules out Hitotsu from a potential international campaign later in the year, where the Japan Cup and Hong Kong International Races had been touted as possible options.
Hitotsu’s managing part-owner Ozzie Kheir said the injury to the star three-year-old was not likely to impact his racing future from next year.
“The injury could have been a lot worse so we will be patient and look forward to his return,” Kheir said in a statement.
The Victoria Derby, Australian Derby and Australian Guineas winner has sustained a strain in his ligament that will force him to have three months of rehab to return to racing in the early part of next autumn.
“Although everyone involved is disappointed with the news, we are also so grateful to Ciaron, David and the entire team in what Hitotsu has achieved to date,” he said.
“He is arguably the best three-year-old of the season or close to it with three 3 Group 1s.
“With a couple of first-time owners involved in Hitotsu, they will soon learn how you need to enjoy the ups as they don’t last forever and dealing with the disappointments is a key part of horse ownership.
“My advice to them is just go back and watch the replays as we are lucky we have them to watch until his return.”
Earlier this month, Racing.com had reported that Hitotsu had just come back into slow work and was being targeted at the Cox Plate.
The son of Maurice was well fancied in the markets for all three spring majors, with Sportsbet pricing him at $10 for the Caulfield Cup, $8.50 for the Cox Plate and joint favourite for the Melbourne Cup at $13.