America's mighty mare Tepin, the only US-trained horse to win at Royal Ascot not saddled by Wesley Ward, has been retired.
A dual US champion trained by Mark Casse, she won six races at the highest level, beating her male counterparts in the Breeders' Cup Mile as a four-year-old in 2015 before her memorable visit to Britain last term, when she recorded a famous victory in the Queen Anne Stakes.
Tepin winning the Queen Anne Stakes, photo Liesl King
Although Tepin had not run since finishing second at the Breeders' Cup in Santa Anita in November and missed her intended seasonal debut owing to a mild bout of colic, hopes remained high that she might return to the royal meeting this summer to defend her Queen Anne title.
However, Casse revealed on Tuesday that she has been retired. "We just think she doesn't want to do it anymore," the trainer said, speaking to the Blood-Horse. "She's happy and healthy – she just doesn't have the same desire to train and we said all along if she showed that to us we would listen."
Nick Smith, Ascot's director of racing and communications, paid tribute to the formidable racemare. "Tepin made real history winning the Queen Anne last year," he said. "It was a real breakthrough for international racing, showing that an American horse can win one of Europe's premier mile races, on turf and off Lasix.
"It was probably the most important moment for our international programme since Choisir opened up the sprints in 2003," he added. "We'd hoped there was a chance for her to return this year but that can only ever be possible when things are 100 per cent."
Tepin, a daughter of Bernstein, carried the colours of owner Robert Masterson. Although she won a Grade 3 on dirt as a two-year-old, she did not come to prominence until she switched to the grass, after which her record was little short of remarkable.
Despite surrendering her Breeders' Cup Mile crown last year, she did not finish worse than second in any of her 15 starts in her last two seasons, winning 11 of them.
Her biggest test, though, came at Ascot, where not only was she running without the anti-bleeding medication Lasix, she was also facing the cream of the European mile division on their home turf on ground softened by days of rain on a straight track the like of which she had never encountered. Furthermore, her customary nasal strip – cited as a factor in her improvement from three to four – was outlawed in Britain, an issue that seemed set to scupper her visit at one stage.
As game as they come, Tepin overcame any such adversity. After hitting the front at the furlong marker, she continued to respond gamely to the urgings of her regular jockey Julien Leparoux to score by a half-length over Belardo.
"There were so many things against her that I'm still trying to figure out whether it was a dream or not," said Casse. "It was definitely one of the highlights of my career, that's for sure. There were a lot of things stacked against us but in the end her greatness prevailed."
Plans to run Tepin in the Dubai Turf last month were shelved when she missed her intended prep through colic, and then she refused to work at Palm Meadows in Florida.
"There's nothing physically wrong with her – she just isn’t interested in running anymore,” Masterson told Thoroughbred Daily News. "It's time to let her retire. She owes us nothing. I think she's been one of the greatest turf mares that has ever been.
"There are no plans to breed her this year," he added. "It's too late, and we’ve not made any decision on her future."