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Starman retired after setback rules him out of Champions Sprint

Starman: July Cup winner had been favourite for the Champions Sprint
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July Cup winner Starman will miss the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes and has been retired to stud.

He suffered a minor setback while being prepared for Saturday's Ascot showdown and will not recover in time to take his chance.

His racing career is now at an end and he will stand at Tally Ho Stud in Ireland, with owner David Ward retaining a share in the four-year-old for his stallion career.

Trainer Ed Walker said: "It's a huge shame as we were really looking forward to Saturday and hoping he could prove himself a real champion.

"I've always thought he was the best around and he's certainly the best I've trained."

Starman's absence throws Saturday's Champions Sprint wide open as he had topped the betting across the board at a best-priced 4-1.

Covid meant that the colt, who was home bred by Ward, did not make his first appearance until July of last year, but he won on his debut at Lingfield then broke the track record at Doncaster and took the Listed Garrowby Stakes at York last September.

Starman in the winner's enclosure with connections after winning the July Cup

After being beaten on very soft ground in the Champions Sprint at Ascot the following month, Walker was determined thereafter to avoid running in similar conditions.

That ruled him out of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot this summer, for which he had been a major fancy after his impressive comeback win in the Duke of York Stakes at York in May.

But his top-level breakthrough was merely delayed and the following month Starman powered to a clear-cut success in the July Cup at Newmarket, where he gave Walker his first Group 1 win as a trainer.

The four-year-old went on to finish third in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville, seemingly outstayed on very soft ground over 6½f, and was then beaten just a short-head by Emaraaty Ana in the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock on what turned out to be his final appearance.

The winner of five of his eight starts, with earnings of over £476,000 in prize-money, Starman retires as the the top-rated sprinter in Europe.

Read more on Champions Day:

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Arc calendar move would benefit Champions Day says Ascot chief (Members' Club)

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I've always thought he was the best around and he's certainly the best I've trained
E.W. Terms