TOOWOOMBA has suffered its second major Brisbane Winter Carnival blow in the space of a week with classy sprinter Azzaland nursing a career-threatening injury.
Azzaland's racing future hangs in the balance with a torn suspensory knee ligament forcing him to the sideline for at least 12 months.
The six-year-old was gearing for carnival assignments including the Chief De Beers Handicap and Healy Stakes ahead of a possible Melbourne Spring campaign.
His winter demise follows the retirement last week of Toowoomba four-year-old Captain Sonador who is stud- bound after a leg injury brought about a premature end to his race-track career.
Trainer Richie Stephenson said Azzaland's latest setback follows his fightback from fetlock problems to strike career-best form.
“It's not looking good for him. It's in a bad spot.” Stephenson said yesterday.
“We first noticed the problem last Tuesday and when we had him scanned it confirmed the suspensory ligament tear in his near right knee.
“Unfortunately there is not a lot you can do for ligament damage, apart from rest.
“He'll be in a paddock down near Coonamble for 12 months now and that may well be the end for him.
“We'll have to wait and see how he heals and if we decided to bring him back I know how hard he'll try.
“But he'll be rising eight by then and time will be against him.”
Stephenson said Azzaland was on track for some select Melbourne carnival races.
“It leaves you with a hollow feeling,” Stephenson said.
“You don't have horses like this fellow come along every day but they are often the ones that strike these sorts of problems.”
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