Time is called on race career of international star Werther

Jockey Hugh Bowman celebrates as Werther triumphs in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup at Sha Tin in 2016. Photo: Hong Kong Jockey Club

Hopes of a return to racing for former Hong Kong Horse of the Year Werther have been dashed, with trainer Andrew Campbell opting to retire the 8-year-old gelding. 

“I galloped him on Saturday and I was going to trial him today [Tuesday] but I wasn’t quite happy with his leg. There was a slight reoccurrence of his injury,” Campbell said yesterday. “I talked to his owner and we didn’t want to risk him.”

Campbell co-bred Werther and trained the son of Tavistock to win four races in New Zealand, including the G2 Championship Stakes (2100m) at Ellerslie in 2015. Werther went on to run second in the G1 South Australian Derby (2500m), win the G2 Eagle Farm Cup (2200m) and was runner-up in the G1 Queensland Derby (2200m).

After being sold to Hong Kong owner Johnson Chen, Werther won six races in Hong Kong for trainer John Moore, including the Hong Kong Derby (2000m), in addition to three G1s. 

Werther also performed with distinction when campaigning in Japan, with a fast-finishing neck second in the G1 Takarazuka Kinen (2200m). 

The injury-plagued horse has not been seen on raceday since finishing third in the G2 Jockey Club Cup (2000) in November, 2018. 

He returned to Campbell’s care to recuperate from a suspensory injury and, though early signs of a racing return had been positive, the decision to retire was an easy one. “He has been a fantastic horse,” Campbell said. “Even when we sold him we got a great thrill watching him race in Hong Kong. It has been a hell of a ride.

“He will get the best of treatment and we will get him the nicest home. He is a grouse horse so we will do the right thing by him for sure.”

Werther retires with career earnings of £5.6 million. His best performance according to the ratings was his 2016 victory in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup at Sha Tin, which earned him a mark of 124, the joint eight-highest in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings for that year. 

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