The career of one of New Zealand's most exciting horses is in the balance after his season ended disastrously.

Auckland Trotting Cup winner Vincent is unlikely to race for at least a year after a hole was found in his suspensory today.

A devastated trainer Mark Purdon revealed the problem today after Vincent was found to have swelling in a leg last Friday which forced him out of Saturday night's Ballarat Cup.

As the swelling went down over the weekend, Purdon and training partner Natalie Rasmussen hoped for the best and that they would still be able to target the Chariots Of Fire and Miracle Mile in Sydney next month.

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Those hopes were destroyed by a veterinary examination, including a scan of the injury.

"He has a hole in his suspensory and he definitely won't race again this season," said Purdon.

"The vet has recommended nine months' complete rest before we can even look at racing him again.

"So things are very much up in the air for him because suspensory injuries are not great.

"It is very, very disappointing because we all know how good he was and how good he could be. We put him in the same class as Lazarus. So we will follow the vet's advice and hope he comes back."

Vincent has won 16 of his 19 starts and was the second favourite to Lazarus for the Miracle Mile after his comprehensive last-start win in the Auckland Cup at what was only his second open-class start.

Suspensory injuries are never good in horses but even more tricky in a horse of Vincent's impressive physique, who will need plenty of work to get race fit as he gets older, especially being a stallion.

If he can't come back he should have a commercial start to his stallion career, having been top class on the track and, being by Art Major, can be crossed with the huge number of daughters of Bettors Delight in Australasia, which won't be an option for Lazarus when the champ retires to stud.

While Purdon's voice was dripping in disappointment, the news about the champ was better.

Lazarus is now expected to make the A$500,000 Hunter Cup on Saturday week.

The Inter Dominion winner missed last Friday's West Australia Cup after hoof soreness after his dramatic second in the Fremantle Cup on January 12.

He has improved steadily since and was able to be hoppled in West Australia on Sunday morning before flying to Victoria last night.

"I have been thrilled with how he has improved and unless something else goes wrong he will be in the Hunter Cup," said Purdon.

"We will be pressing on now, like a normal campaign, and I don't think it should be too much of a problem heading forward."

With Vincent sidelined, the stable now have Ultimate Machete as their sole Chariots Of Fire contender and he, too, is on the improve after hoof issues and is expected to make the February 10 feature at Menangle.

Vincent

Breeding: Art Major-Kept For Pleasure.
Trainers: Mark Purdon, Natalie Rasmussen.
Record: 19 starts, 16 wins, two placings, one retired with flat sulky tyre.
Stakes: $610,066.
Highlights: Auckland Cup, NZ Derby, NSW Derby, NSW Breeders Challenge.