Victorian trainer Robert Hickmott's hopes of winning a third Melbourne Cup have been dealt a major blow with progressive horse Schabau (GER) suffering a tendon injury.
Hickmott informed Racing Victoria stewards of Schabau's condition on Wednesday.
The German import was one of the leading fancies for this year's Melbourne Cup after three consecutive victories at Flemington.
The four-year-old entire won narrowly twice over 2000 metres in benchmark handicaps during the first two months of this year before cruising to a 3.75-length victory in the Listed Roy Higgins Quality (2600m) at Flemington on March 2.
Hickmott intended to spell Schabau after his Roy Higgins Quality win where he would be aimed at the Group 3 Bart Cummings Quality (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday, October 5 to gain automatic entry for the $7.3 million Group 1 Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) on Tuesday, November 5.
"We treated the horse with bute (analgesic and anti-inflammatory medication) after he won, most of the horses we do that to, just to keep him nice and happy before he left to go to the paddock," Hickmott said.
"On the Tuesday (after winning the Roy Higgins) I just found a bit of thickening in the right-fore tendon and a bit of soreness on palpation. We scanned him and subsequently found a small lesion there.
"We then had to do our due diligence. The horse was re-scanned the next week just to make sure it wasn't a blood clot and a bit of bruising but unfortunately it still showed that there was a lesion there."
Hickmott says Schabau has an eight to nine per cent lesion and therefore is classified as the lowest level (Grade 1) of tendon injuries.
"There's a very good prognosis to return to the track 100 per cent," Hickmott said.
"Time is the best remedy for an injury like this. He's not even four-year-old yet so we've got plenty of time."
Hickmott anticipates that Schabau will require ten months paddock rest, with some periods of low-intensity exercise, before returning to full fitness.
Schabau has raced nine times for five wins and four minor placings with prizemoney of $286,475.
Hickmott trained the Green Moon (2012) and Almandin (2016) to win the Melbourne Cup for owner Lloyd Williams. Almandin, like Schabau, was German-bred and won the Bart Cummings to secure a berth in the Cup field before carrying 52kg to victory on the first Tuesday in November.
One TAB punter placed $6000 on Schabau at $51 to win the Melbourne Cup in the week leading into the Roy Higgins Quality, forcing him into $26.
TAB spokesperson Trent Langskail informs punters that all bets placed on Schabau for the 2019 Melbourne Cup will be refunded as bets were placed whilst the market was 'pre nominations'.
Schabau (GER), picture Quentinjlang.com