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Crystal Ocean, the World’s Second-Best Horse, Forced to Retire Through Injury

Close Up of Dark Brown Horse in StablesIt’s always a tragedy when a horse is forced to retire prematurely through injury. And it’s even sadder when that horse just happens to be one of the best thoroughbreds on the planet that was just hitting his stride.

Crystal Ocean, highly regarded by all of the main ratings firms, will be sent to stud after suffering a leg injury during training that has ultimately ended his career.

The five-year-old was undergoing routine training exercises at Newmarket on Thursday when he pulled up shortly after starting a gallop along a Polytrack surface. He underwent immediate surgery, and while vets could not save his career they are confident no long-term damage has been done.

Peter Stanley, on behalf of Crystal Ocean’s owner Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, said:

“Crystal Ocean has had two screws inserted in a hind cannon bone and has come through the surgery successfully. It should in no way affect his future stud career.”

(Nearly) The Best in the Business

After winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot earlier in 2019, Crystal Ocean had confirmed his position as one of the world’s finest active racehorses.

And the manner in which Sir Michael Stoute’s charge has battled Enable, the other great star of contemporary racing, had many punters and pundits looking forward to their future battles.

Crystal Ocean gave up some 3lb to the two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner in the summer’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but still produced a stellar display to go down by a neck to the horse rated at the world’s best.

That saw him installed as the bookies favourite for the Champion Stakes, as well as a 6/1 shot for the Arc – in which Enable will be looking to complete an incredible hat-trick. All told, Crystal Ocean won eight of his seventeen starts and landed more than £2 million for the de Rothschild connection.

For a while, he was rated as the best horse on the planet according to the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings before being ousted by Enable (see table below), but retiring as the next best is testament to the hard work that the Stoute yard has put in.

Rank Horse Trainer Rating
1st Enable John Gosden 128
2nd Crystal Ocean Sir Michael Stoute 127
3rd Ghaiyyath Charlie Appleby 126
4th Battaash Charles Hills 125
5th Beauty Generation John Moore 125

But for a defeat to Japan in the Juddmonte International in August, who knows he may have been sent to stud as the best rated horse in the game.

So now Enable is left to fly the flag for British racing on a global scale, and the John Gosden filly will be looking to make history at the Arc later in the year. Her rating of 128 already confirms her as one of the finest thoroughbreds of the modern era, and she can guarantee her place in the pantheon of the sport with victory at Paris Longchamp.

Incidentally, the horse in third according to the Longines rankings is Ghaiyyath, another British horse from the Godolphin network. He started his career in England, but has since moved to France – winning the D’harcourt Group 2 Stakes and the Prince D’orange Group 3 Stakes and finishing third in the Group 1 Prix Ganay behind another well-respected horse, Waldgeist.