Australia retired after developing hoof problem

Aidan O’Brien has hailed Australia as "unique" following the announcement that the three-year-old has been retired to stand at Coolmore stud.

Australia retired after developing hoof problem

The Ballydoyle handler has made no secret of his regard for the colt, who represents the bluest of blood lines as a son of Derby winner Galileo out of Oaks victor Ouija Board.

O’Brien’s high opinion was justified as Australia claimed victories in the Epsom and Irish Derbys before going on to prove himself a top-class performer over 10 furlongs when winning the Juddmonte International at York.

He was due to appear at Ascot on Qipco Champions Day next Saturday but connections have confirmed a hoof issue has brought a premature end to his career.

“From very early days we thought Australia was as good as any horse we have ever had here and nothing has happened to change our view,” said O’Brien. “He’s unique.”

Coolmore’s director of sales, Australia earned over £2m in prize-money during a superb career which yielded five victories from eight starts.

The three-year-old announced himself as a major player in a Group Three at Leopardstown in September 2013, when he accounted for Free Eagle by six lengths. A narrow third upon his return to action in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, he went on to claim his Classic victories.

His tall reputation was, however, slightly tarnished in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown last month when International runner-up The Grey Gatsby gained his revenge in a dramatic race.

Australia would nonetheless have been one of the star attractions on Champions Day next weekend, but Coolmore’s UK representative Kevin Buckley was adamant the Ballydoyle team could not afford to take any risks at this stage of his career.

He said: “We were all looking forward to it (going to Ascot), but, as you can appreciate, any type of setback like that jeopardises the training regime.

“Hence we had to take that decision he wouldn’t be ready for the Champion Stakes.

“Unfortunately Australia developed a problem in his right-hind hoof during the week.

“Following consultation between the resident farrier at Ballydoyle, our vet, John Halley, and the respective owners, the decision was made to retire him to Coolmore.”

Ballydoyle farrier Jeff Henderson accepted the challenge of getting Australia ready for Ascot was over once an infection in the problematic hoof had worsened.

He said: “At the beginning of the week we discovered a bit of soreness in the heel, which made us suspicious of a hoof abscess.

“We poulticed away at it and the infection came out and there were no soundness issues at all.

“Then a couple of days later, he pulled out lame and, on inspection, we realised the infection had blown out through the bottom of the foot as well as the top.

“In a case like that, it was going to take a couple of weeks for the stability to come back.”

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