Zoustar owner's decision not to scratch proves costly

Widden Stud owner Antony Thompson considered scratching Zoustar during the storm that delayed Saturday's Canterbury Stakes, where the $18 million colt failed, leaving his autumn campaign and Royal Ascot trip in limbo.

"Things don't always go the way you plan in racing as we found out,'' Thompson said. ''I was nervous about Zoustar before the storm and it certainly added to our nerves.

"I did ask [trainer] Chris [Waller] if we should scratch him because of the track during the storm, but he pointed out that with it only being [rated] dead it might make it hard for us to run him on the same rating in the TJ [Smith Stakes].

"It was disappointing for all of us ... [we] will wait to see how he is in a couple of days. He will have a full vet check before we do anything."

Zoustar pulled up with mild lameness in his near foreleg following the Canterbury, which explained why he finished eighth out of 10 starters.

Waller has been happy with the Northern Meteor colt in the lead-up to his return on Saturday. However after that poor performance he will have to obtain a veterinary clearance before Zoustar runs again.

"He was sound this morning but the leg had been iced all night and he has been given anti-inflammatories, so we won't know how he really is until Tuesday," Waller said on Sunday.

No risks will be taken with Zoustar. He already has the Golden Rose and Coolmore Stud Stakes to credit at group 1 level, because another defeat would affect his value at stud.

The stud deal to buy Zoustar was brokered before the Coolmore Stud Stakes and included a bonus for winning it, which took his value to $18 million. There is another $2 million bonus for his next group 1 victory. However he is already popular with breeders and there is a chance he may have run his last race.

"We already have more than 200 mares interested in visiting him this season, so he has made it as a stallion already," Thompson said.

"We would love to keep him racing and let him show what a great horse he is.''

The plan for Zoustar was to target the TJ Smith Stakes before heading to Royal Ascot. Waller said Zoustar would most likely have a barrier trial at Randwick on April 4, eight days before the TJ Smith.

"The TJ has been our target this preparation and then Royal Ascot, but only if he is fit and well," Thompson said. "He will definitely look to stud this year."

Thompson's Widden Stud had a great Saturday until the Canterbury Stakes, as their stallion Sebring produced his first group 1 winner when Dissident won the Randwick Guineas.

"Everything was going right up until that storm hit," Thompson said. "To see Sebring get his first group 1 winner was a special moment for us and Dissident, and Villa Verde [which won the Challenge Stakes], had made the Zoustar form stand up.

"Sebring is turning out to be everything breeders want.''

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