Trainer Mick Price is hopeful that Lion Of Belfort will be able to return to the races for the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival after undergoing rehabilitation for a back injury at the end of his autumn campaign.
Lion Of Belfort stamped himself as a horse to watch with a string of impressive performances during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, but he failed to fire in his two race starts during the 2014 Melbourne Festival Of Racing; finishing sixth behind stablemate Lankan Rupee in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield on February 8 before finishing fifth in the Group 3 Zeditave Stakes (1200m) at the same venue a fortnight later.
Price told AAP that he sent Lion Of Belfort for a veterinary examination after his two disappointing performances and the inspection revealed that the Statue Of Liberty colt had been suffering from an issue in his spine.
“He went to scintigraphy and got diagnosed with kissing lesions in the spine,” he said.
“It’s where the vertebrae get malaligned and they get inflamed; it’s similar to a bulging disc in a human.
“He’s had a good spell and he’s on the treadmill at rehab and he’ll do some water walker and then he’ll come back in and we’ll give him a try.
“We have to give them time and we have got to work our way around the problem and be careful of concussion.”
Lion Of Belfort made his racing debut with a narrow defeat to Washington Square at Geelong on August 27 last year before recording his maiden race win, in what was Damien Oliver’s first ride back from suspension, at the same venue a fortnight later.
The three-year-old defeated the likes of Hucklebuck when he scored his first metropolitan victory in the Mitchelton Wines Plate (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 27 before scoring the biggest win of his career over a classy field in the $250,500 Blue Sapphire (1200m) at Caulfield on October 12.
Price elected to throw the talented colt into the deep end at Group 1 level in the Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on November 2 and he made up plenty of ground late to finish third behind Zoustar and Not Listenin’tome.
The veteran trainer is unsure what races he will target with Lion Of Belfort during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, but said that the rising four-year-old will not be set for any of the feature races.