Inferno’s HK date goes badly

String of unfortunate events leads to trainer Brown making tough decision

"We're coming home." Those three simple words summed up the frustration and disappointment trainer Cliff Brown must have felt when he made the difficult decision to pull the plug on Inferno's Hong Kong adventure.

Inferno was down to contest the Longines Hong Kong Sprint on Sunday, but circumstances ruled out his participation.

While it was heart-wrenching, it was the right decision.

Inferno had suffered enough. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. And Inferno's race was run even before he got to the starting gates.

The Kranji superstar and a winner of eight races had to be pulled out from the big race. There were no two ways about it.

So it was, on Tuesday afternoon, Brown informed the Hong Kong racing stewards that his horse would not run.

To say that things had not gone well for the Singapore champ would be an understatement.

He was on the back foot even before he stepped into his stall on that plane which was to fly him to Hong Kong.

First in a string of "unfortunate" events happened when the air-conditioning in his float - the vehicle that transports horses - broke down. Poor Inferno. He had to endure three hours in sweltering heat.

The discomfort arising from the bad situation became even worse when, given the fact that he had not yet recovered from the "float" incident, Inferno had to endure another four hours of flying time in conditions that were not too ideal.

Wait. There was more.

Inferno had come down with a hoof issue the day before the flight and the hold-up on the tarmac did not help his cause.

"Inferno became distressed after the air-conditioning in his box broke down. He was melting in the heat at the airport for three hours," said Brown.

"Luckily, (Singapore Turf Club veterinary surgeon) Dr Dan Shaw and (assistant-trainer) Tony Lane were able to hose him down and sedate him as he was getting so upset.

"From the way the trip had unfolded, it was a really bad start, and once he arrived in Hong Kong, things got worse when he didn't eat properly for three nights.

"To top all that, the day before he left, he had a small foot issue. I thought it would get right, and he actually cantered fine yesterday, his work was fine.

"But, all in all, he was not coming right and I decided to pull the pin early."

It was the right thing to do as the horse's welfare had to come first.

"Glenn (Whittenbury of Barree Stable) is disappointed, of course," said the trainer. "The horse already had this foot issue, and in hindsight, maybe I could have pulled the pin there and then.

"But I thought it could come right, and decided to press on, but unfortunately, it didn't work out.

"If there's a positive spin, the trip away will help him grow up and, if we are fortunate to travel again in the future, this trip will have helped him immensely."

Poor Inferno. Everything that could have gone wrong had gone wrong.

But Inferno being Inferno, he will - as Brown said - come out of this a better horse.