Rocket Star has come out of the Singapore Derby to be run at Kranji on Sunday right on the eve of the big race.
The leading prospect came out for a routine canter on Saturday morning but started to cough.
Trainer Ricardo Le Grange immediately sent his charge to the vets, and with the endoscopy of his respiratory tract unfortunately confirming his fears, he decided to withdraw him.
Rocket Star, with Vlad Duric up, at one of his four wins, picture Singapore Turf Club
“Rocket Star came out for a couple of canters this morning and was starting to cough,” said the South African handler.
“I had him scoped right away and there was blood in the mucus inside his trachea.
“It’s a respiratory distress, and we couldn’t take any chance with him. I spoke to his owner Paolo Mendoza and we decided to scratch him from the Derby.
“It’s disappointing but the welfare and the interests of the horse come first.”
It’s not the first time the four-year-old chestnut by Star Witness falls prey to respiratory issues. Last December during the break as he was getting ready for the new season, he bled from both nostrils at a barrier trial.
After the mandatory three-month ban, the four-time winner bounced back in time for an ambitious Group campaign trail.
Rocket Star certainly gave encouraging signs all was well at his comeback races, including a first-up second to Lim’s Lightning in the Group 1 Lion City Cup (1200m) in April.
He followed that up with another super run, a third to Minister in the Group 1 Kranji Mile (1600m), but did not quite run to expectations in the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) for four-year-olds three weeks ago, finishing sixth to Mr Malek. He had excuses, though, as he came back lame.
Rocket Star has since overcome that and was gearing up nicely for the main race he had been aimed at this year, but unfortunately, another setback has derailed these plans.
Current leading jockey Danny Beasley was to take the ride on Rocket Star for the first time.
Sunday’s $400,000 Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) is now left with only eight runners after this sensational withdrawal, which also robs the glamour race of its excitement given he was one of the three favourites with Mr Malek and Big Hearted.