Updated: 5 days ago
Starman will miss the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes and has been retired to stud.
The July Cup winner has suffered a minor setback while being prepared for Saturday’s Ascot showdown and will not recover in time to take his chance.
His racing career is now at an end and he will stand at Tally Ho Stud in Ireland. His owner David Ward will retain a share in the four-year-old for his stallion career.
Trainer Ed Walker said: “It’s a huge shame as we were really looking forward to Saturday and confirming him to be the champion that he is.
“I’ve always thought he was the best around and he’s certainly the best I’ve ever trained.”
Covid meant that the colt, who was home bred by David Ward, did not make his first appearance until July of last year winning on his debut at Lingfield. He then broke the track record at Doncaster on his second run followed by victory in the Listed Garrowby Stakes at York last autumn.
Very soft ground at Ascot in the Champions Sprint didn’t suit and Walker was determined thereafter to avoid running in similar conditions.
That ruled him out of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot this summer, for which he had been a huge fancy after his impressive comeback win in the Duke Of York Stakes at York in May on good to soft ground
But his top-level breakthrough was merely delayed ,and the following month Starman powered to a clear-cut success in the July Cup at Newmarket (pictured above: photo Racingfotos.com), where he gave Ed Walker his first Group 1 win as a trainer.
The four-year-old went on to finish third in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville, seemingly outstayed on very soft ground over 6 1/2f, and was then beaten just a short head by Emaraaty Ana in Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock on what turned out to be his final appearance.
As the winner of five of his eight starts and earnings of over £476,000 in prize money Starman retires as the top rated sprinter in Europe.
Owner David Ward told the TDN: “I am excited that he's going to be a stallion but at the moment there's also a bit of sadness that he's not going to be an hour and a half away so I can go to see him easily. He's more than a racehorse to me. As brilliant as he's been, I've probably had even more joy from him away from the racecourse, seeing him when he was half an hour old, watching him grow, going to visit him and sitting with him with him falling asleep with his lead on my lap.
“He's going to Tally-Ho and I know them well. My first horse was by Kodiac and I feel he's going to the right place. I feel proud and blessed to have bred him and hopefully it's just the next chapter for him. I'm now trying to get my mares together for him, so that's going to be a new thing for me in the future, and something to look forward to. It will be amazing for us all to have some of his offspring on the track, and I have an arrangement with Tally-Ho that he can come home when he retires."
Tally-Ho's Roger O'Callaghan added: “We are grateful to Ed Sackville for arranging the deal for Star-man to stand at Tally-Ho and we are delighted to welcome a horse of his calibre. He's a really high-class horse that caught everybody's attention this year.”