Connections of Royal Patronage were left cursing their luck after the high-class juvenile was struck into during the Vertem Futurity Trophy at Doncaster.
Mark Johnston’s colt lined up for the final Group One of the British Flat season with leading claims, judged on his defeat of subsequent Autumn Stakes winner Coroebus in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket.
But after making much of the running over Doncaster’s straight mile, Royal Patronage ended up passing the post a long last of eight runners – after which his injury came to light.
Harry Herbert, managing director for owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, said: “Unfortunately he was struck into and returned with a nasty gash just above his hock.
“The jockey (Jason Hart) was very happy with him travelling, but he said he felt him wobble behind and he obviously eased him down immediately and pulled him up.
“We were obviously very disappointed. It was too bad to be true and watching it – I was thinking ‘what’s going on here’, and feared the worst watching him being pulled up.
“These things happen – it’s just very unfortunate that it happened in a Group One race, where you hope you’ve got a chance.”
Herbert remains hopeful Royal Patronage can bounce back to stake a claim for Derby glory next year.
He added: “He’ll have the winter off and he’ll be back, hopefully for a Derby trial in the spring.”
Brian Meehan is confident Hannibal Barca can make his mark at the highest level next season, after outrunning his odds at Doncaster.
The Salisbury novice winner faced a big step up in class for the Group One Vertem Futurity Trophy on Saturday.
But after being sent off a widely unconsidered 25-1 shot, the Zoffany colt was beaten just two lengths into fourth place by red-hot favourite Luxembourg, delighting his trainer in the process.
Meehan said: “It was a great run and it was only his third start.
“He could easily have been second.”
Meehan won the 2009 Craven Stakes with Delegator, who went on to find only the brilliant Sea The Stars too strong in the 2000 Guineas a few weeks later.
The Manton handler could follow the same route with Hannibal Barca, adding: “I think a mile or a mile and a quarter is going to be his best trip, and we could start him off in the Craven next year.
“He’s a proper horse, and there’s a lot of physical improvement in him.
“He’s definitely Group One class for next year.”