Saxon Warrior & Alpha Centauri retired after injuries at Leopardstown

Saxon Warrior (left) and Alpha Centauri
Saxon Warrior (left) won his first four races in 2017-18 while Alpha Centauri triumphed in six of her 10 races

Two of the leading horses of the year's Flat racing season - Alpha Centauri and Saxon Warrior - have been retired after suffering injuries on Saturday.

Aidan O'Brien-trained Saxon Warrior won the first Classic of 2018, the 2,000 Guineas, but damaged a tendon finishing runner-up in the Irish Champion Stakes.

Also injured at Leopardstown was filly Alpha Centauri, winner of four Group One races between May and August.

She injured a fetlock when runner-up to Laurens in the Matron Stakes.

The Jessica Harrington-trained three-year-old Alpha Centauri's surprise defeat ended a magnificent run of Group One wins for the daughter of Mastercraftsman, which began with the Irish 1,000 Guineas and took in the Coronation Stakes, Falmouth Stakes and Prix Jacques le Marois.

Alan Cooper, racing manager to owners the Niarchos family, said: "Unfortunately the decision has been taken to retire Alpha Centauri on veterinary advice and on consultation with Jessie.

"She had a chip in her right front fetlock, which you could see her feeling. It's not a catastrophic injury and hopefully she can enjoy a successful career as a broodmare."

Three-year-old Deep Impact colt Saxon Warrior was sent off odds-on favourite for the Derby, where he could only finish fourth, and was then beaten in the Irish equivalent.

He finished second in the Coral-Eclipse to Roaring Lion, but was then badly hit by the virus that affected O'Brien's yard in the summer.

Down the field in the Juddmonte International on his first run back, a race also won by Roaring Lion, he improved markedly on that effort at the weekend, but was beaten by a neck by John Gosden's colt.

Analysis

Cornelius Lysaght, BBC horse racing correspondent

Both horses had been among the biggest stars of 2018, particularly Alpha Centauri who powered to four successes at Group One level, most memorably perhaps at Royal Ascot when spreadeagling her opponents in the Coronation Stakes.

She also provided one of the great stories of the year, showcasing the skills of veteran trainer Jessie Harrington on the flat as well as over jumps.

Saxon Warrior was brilliant winner of the 2,000 Guineas - and was consequently odds-on for the Derby, when fourth - and he had a striking rivalry with Roaring Lion over six races including his final one. If their progeny emulate them, they'll be talented.

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