Champion pacing mare Carabella’s comeback could be over before it passes first base.

The winner of 17 of her 19 starts was lame yesterday, just a day after her winning her first public outing in 14 months at the Rangiora trials.

But what really guts trainer Brendon Hill is that the problem leg which had kept Carabella away from the racetrack for so long is no longer the issue. “I got her out of her box and her bad leg was perfect,” said Hill. “But her near-front leg, which has always been fine, had blown up. “It is obviously a tendon problem and it doesn’t look good. “You hear about horses doing this sort of thing when they off-load from their bad leg to their good one but I can’t believe it. We just can’t get a break with her.”

Hill says while it is too early to diagnose the exact extent of the damage, Carabella’s autumn campaign and therefore maybe her entire career is in jeopardy. “She will have a scan tomorrow and then maybe again on Friday but this new campaign looks in danger. “And if she misses that then we have to sit down and talk about what happens next, but the bottom line is we really didn’t need this setback today.”

Carabella was the champion three and four-year-old mare of her year and holds a head-to-head advantage over New Zealand’s best active pacing mare, Bettor Cover Lover. When you consider how Bettor Cover Lover has dominated the major mare’s races in the last year as well as finishing third in the Auckland Cup, Hill’s frustration at Carabella’s constant problems is understandable. The mare was set to resume at Addington next week, giving her a month to try and win around $18,000 to secure a place in her division of the Jewels at Ashburton on June 2.