Mark Johnston has been dealt a major blow with the news that stable star Universal fractured a pastern at exercise on Sunday morning.

The four-year-old had made great strides this season, winning a Newbury Group Three in the spring before going to win two Group Two events at Newmarket and claim a third place at Royal Ascot.

Johnston, who is currently in America, had been lining him up for a crack at next week's Gain Irish St Leger at the Curragh but is now just hoping Universal will be able to race again in the future.

"Universal, the highest-rated horse in our yard, fractured his pastern on the gallops this morning," he told

"As I write this, he is travelling to Newmarket Equine Hospital where surgeon Ian Wright will operate.

"I am in Lexington, Kentucky, for the forthcoming Keeneland yearling sales and so is owner Abdullah al Mansoori.

"Our dreams of Group One glory for his admirably progressive horse are shattered.

"It was our intention that Universal would run in the Irish St Leger next weekend, followed by the Canadian International and the Japan Cup. With such a tough horse, it never entered our heads that injury could stop him.

"Hearing of such an accident in the early hours of the morning, here in Lexington, brings back memories of Fruits Of Love who fractured his pelvis on the eve of the first Keeneland sale I ever attended.

"I can only dream that Universal's accident will have such a happy outcome and that he might race successfully again."