Deacon Blues, in the frame to provide Royal Ascot opposition for Black Caviar, will miss the 2012 racing season because of injury.
Trainer James Fanshawe said Deacon Blues, potentially the best sprinter in England for many years, had suffered a tear to a tendon.
Scans taken on Saturday showed the deeply progressive five-year-old sprinter to have sustained a tear to a tendon in a leg.
Fanshawe said: “We discovered some unusual warmth in his left-fore leg on Friday evening.
“We had him scanned on Saturday and we found a small tear in a tendon, which I’m afraid rules him out for the season.”
Deacon Blues was named last season’s joint-champion sprinter of Europe after winning five consecutive races, including the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh.
He signed off for the year with an outstanding length-and-a-half success in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot in October.
On the back of that sequence, Deacon Blues had been rated one of the few European horses expected to provide Black Caviar with a contest during this year’s Royal Ascot carnival.
Black Caviar is being set for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket – Group One races which were also on Deacon Blues’ radar.
Fanshawe hopes the son of Compton Place will still be able to return to a racecourse in 2013.
He added: “It’s a big blow for the yard and his owners, but with injuries like this you cannot rush them.
“The main thing is to give him every possible chance of a full recovery.”
PA AAP TURF