Society Rock has met with a setback and will be unable to attempt a second win in the Group One Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday.
The James Fanshawe-trained six-year-old, who beat Gordon Lord Byron at the Lancashire course last September, “had a fall [on Sunday afternoon] and suffered a bang to his head,” the yard said yesterday. “He has some concussion and is receiving medical treatment from the vets at Newmarket Equine Hospital.”
Society Rock beat the season’s top sprinter Lethal Force first time out in the Duke of York Stakes on the Knavesmire in May and has since finished second, on a faster surface to Clive Cox’s grey, in both the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket.
Saturday’s contest was one of two planned by Fanshawe, whose horses enjoyed a purple patch with a high strike rate last month, for Society Rock before retirement, the other being the Group Two sprint on Champions Day at Ascot next month, in which he finished fifth last year.
Lethal Force, who heads 18 acceptors for Saturday’s six-furlong showpiece, followed his wins with a second to Moonlight Cloud over an extra half-furlong in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville four weeks ago. The international challenge typical of the top midsummer sprints is all but absent, with the South African trainer Mike de Kock relying on Kavanagh, who made a tame British debut when sixth in a Listed race at Newmarket 10 days ago. Aidan O’Brien has one possible runner in Cristoforo Colombo, who was fifth in the 2,000 Guineas on his only start this season.
Fast ground at Leopardstown could lead to the Yorkshire Oaks winner The Fugue taking her chance in the Irish Champion Stakes on Saturday. Simon Marsh, racing and bloodstock manager for The Fugue’s owners Lord and Lady Lloyd-Webber, said: “Looking at the weather forecast, there is not a lot of rain around at the moment and she has got her preferred ground, so we might let her take her chance. There has been no decision about Saturday, but she would be a definite possible.”
But fast ground may preclude the participation of Roger Charlton’s Al Kazeem and the French-trained Cirrus Des Aigles.
Aidan O’Brien, who has saddled a record seven Irish Champion Stakes winners, has Declaration Of War, Triumphant, Kingsbarns and Magician, as well as the last two Derby winners, Camelot and Ruler Of The World, as possibles. Jim Bolger’s Parish Hall and Trading Leather are also acceptors.