By Andy Stephens
Triple Group 1 winner Almanzor, who was the champion three-year-old in 2016, has been retired.
The brilliant Jean-Claude Rouget-trained colt was Europe’s top middle-distance performer last season when he won the French Derby, Irish Champion Stakes and QIPCO Champion Stakes.
He ended the season with an official rating of 129 and the plan had been to campaign him this year with a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at the top of his schedule.
However, he was affected by the virus that swept through Rouget’s yard at the start of the season and was well below-par when belatedly making his return in a Group 3 event at Deauville last week when sent off at 1-2.
Sylvain Vidal, racing manager for part-owner Gerard Augustin-Normand, said on Monday: "I spoke with all the team, and we have taken the decision to retire the horse. It was not an easy decision to take, but everyone was in 100 per cent agreement that it was the right thing to do.
"The plan was to go to the Arc, but after his performance last week we could not have gone there expecting to win. He was a very good horse and was the best three-year-old in Europe.
"He has done everything he needs to do on a racecourse."
Almanzor won eight times from 11 career starts and earned more than £2.1million in prize-money. Vidal said that stud details for Almanzor will be announced "in a few weeks, after we have spoken to all the partners".
Almanzor was a superb winner of the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot
The decision not to send Almanzor to stud at the end of his three-year-old career has effectively cost his connections millions of pounds in stallion fees.
Postponed, La Cressonniere and Minding have also been retired this campaign after being kept in training. In total, the star-studded quartet ran four times between them - winning only once.
In addition, Wings Of Eagles, the Derby winner, was retired after suffering a serious injury in the Irish version.