Stand Guard joined rival La Estrella on a mark just one short of the British all-weather-winning record after the pair’s much anticipated clash at Southwell was thwarted at the 11th hour.
The Coral App Download From The App Store Selling Stakes had attracted both the sport’s current main protagonists on artificial surfaces, with Don Cantillon’s La Estrella seeking to equal the 25 victories set by China Castle at this same course in December 2001.
But Cantillon withdrew La Estrella on veterinary advice shortly before the event and left Tom Queally and Stand Guard to completely outclass his only remaining opponent, Bix.
The sleepy Nottinghamshire course, overlooked by pylons but only a couple of miles from the eponymous Minster town, is rarely the focus of such attention in the racing world and there was some dissatisfaction from punters.
Stand Guard was slightly longer than his rival in the early betting shows and those who backed John Butler’s 10-year-old before the withdrawal would only face a 55p deduction in the pound on a horse who was ultimately sent off the 1-66 favourite.
With no bid for Stand Guard at the subsequent auction, both trainers raised the possibility of another scheduled Fibresand meeting at the track next month. Cantillon said: “The horse has rolled in his box and seems to have given his head a slap on the wall. There is a trickle of blood in his left nostril.
“He’s quieter than usual. There are two vets down there with him, and it wouldn’t be in the horse’s interest to run.
“He’ll have to have an easy couple of days now. We’ll see how he is, if he’s OK there is a two-mile claimer back here on the 18th.”
Butler said: “It’s a shame what happened to Don’s horse but we’re all here to win and he’s won, that’s the main thing.
“Horses are peculiar animals and what happened was a sheer freak of nature, I suppose.
“His next race could be the claimer on the 18th, which I’m sure Don’s horse will be in too.”