It was announced today that Harbinger, the world's top-rated horse by both Racing Post and Timeform, has been retired. Despite successful surgery to his fractured cannon bone, it was decided that calling it a career would be the best course of action for the son of Dansili. Thankfully, news from his ownership has been good since the injury. Harbinger is recovering well, and should begin a happy second career as a stallion next year.
Owned by the partnership of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, Harbinger certainly goes out a winner. His 11 length tour-de-force victory in the historic King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes was one of the most spectacular performances of the 21st century.
A group 3 winner as a three-year-old, Harbinger was far from the star he became this year. Beginning with the Finest Surprise Stakes in April, Harbinger became first a consistent winner, and then race by race progressed into the monster we saw last month. A promising win in another group 3 stakes followed his four-year-old debut, and it would be on to Ascot for the Sir Michael Stoute trainee. And it would be at Ascot that Harbinger would be first considered a potential superstar. A smashing victory against a solid field in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot in June opened the world’s eyes, and then the absolute dismantling of a stellar bunch in the Group 1 King George left mouths agape.
Overall, Harbinger won six of his nine starts and earned nearly $1.2 million. The bay colt was injured in a workout preparing for York’s Juddmonte International on August 17. A win there would have sent the four-year-old colt to huge races such as the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and possibly the Breeders’ Cup Turf as a strong favorite. After such a marvelous performance like his last, you always want to see the horse come back and repeat that form. It is a shame that Harbinger will never get that chance.
Photo by Alan Crowhurst of Getty Images