FUTURE KING has exercised the minds of the best vets in the world - and he continues to put his trainer Roger James "through hell and back". For while the showy four-year-old looked like a worldbeater at Ellerslie yesterday, turning on an explosive burst of speed to put his rating 65 rivals away in a few strides, he has a debilitating problem which no-one can diagnose.
And James wasn't looking forward to inspecting the horse this morning, fearing he will again be lame.
"The day after he last raced he was stressed and panting in his box. He had one leg off the ground and couldn't even put his toe down.
"We threw everything at him and within a day he was lame in the other leg.
"That's why he was so distressed - both legs were sore but he had to stand on one." James said Future King's problem surfaced within half an hour of his run at Te Rapa, when he ran up to win before finishing second.
But it was no isolated incident. Future King had the same issue after winning a trial at Te Teko in August, 2011, and after his debut third at Te Rapa last February.
"He's had two lots of six months on the sidelines," James said.
"I was frightened to line him up today.
"We've thrown the problem at vets all round the world. Coolmore [Stud] owns half of him, and they have access to some firepower.
"But they cannot diagnose it. The only thing we can come up with is he might be extremely shin sore, which seems incredible for a four-year-old.
"You can't touch him when he's sore - he'd eat you.
"But that run today is a mark of how good he is."
Future King, by Encosta De Lago, looked destined to finish among the also-rans when he was back in the field on the home turn, with a wall of horses in front of him. But when rider Vinnie Colgan found room, he rocketed through the pack in a few giant strides, racing away to win by 2 lengths, clocking 1:04.03 for the 1100 metres.