Sawyers Gully trainer Adam Ruggari was "beyond shattered" on Thursday with news he would have to scratch Mister Brazil from the Inter Dominion Pacing Championships, the morning after finding out the veteran had rocketed up the rankings to make the 36-horse series.
The withdrawal because of illness means Louth Park pacer Bright Energy will gain a spot in the series after finishing 37th in the standings.
Ruggari was celebrating after the release of final rankings on Wednesday night, which lifted Mister Brazil from 50th to 33rd and into the premier Australasian series, which starts on Saturday week at Menangle before more qualifying rounds at Bathurst (December 1) and Newcastle (December 5). The grand final is at Menangle on December 11.
However, results from a regular check of the nine-year-old gelding's blood work on Thursday indicated all was not right with Mister Brazil. An examination then confirmed Ruggari's worst fears of a virus and he was advised to treat Mister Brazil with penicillin, which has a three-week swab period and would rule him out of the series.
Trainers have until 12pm on Friday to lodge a final acceptance before fields are released on Monday.
"I'm devastated. I can't believe it," Ruggari said.
"The horse himself, he looks a picture, a million dollars, and if I hadn't have done this routine blood count, I would never have known.
"He had three levels on his count as low and the vet said it's not normally a sign of an early onset of a virus, so we'll run the scope over his lungs and see what they are like.
"We could have given him the full seven days [to recover] but if you scratch after tomorrow, you have to pay the full $2000 late fee. And I would hate to take someone else's place and not really get there.
"But I dead-set can't believe it ... how things can change in a few hours."
Mister Brazil had powered up the rankings with a sub 1:50 mile when second to star Expensive Ego on November 6 at Menangle.
Ruggari was glad, though, that the next horse into the series was the Elder family's Bright Energy, which had risen in standings from 46th.
Bright Energy is owned and was bred by Michael Elder. His brother Darren trains the horse. Darren's son, Brad, will do the driving. It will be Darren's second time in the series, after he drove and trained Shannonsablast six years ago in the championships held in Perth.
Bright Energy has had two placings and a win at Menangle in three starts since returning to Elder's stable from top Sydney trainer Belinda McCarthy.
Darren felt for Ruggari but was thrilled to get the opportunity when informed by the Newcastle Herald on Thursday.
"We're pretty excited actually, we were really happy with him last week [when second]," he said. "He did a lot of work outside them into a pretty good headwind, and he's on the way to where he needs to be going.
"To get another horse into the Inter Dominion, after the Blaster I thought that would never happen again, so we're pretty excited. And I'm excited that now Brad gets a turn, I've had my turn.
"Outside the big stables, this is usually a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I never thought I'd have two runners."
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