Kieren Fallon has received a surprise call-up to ride Godolphin's Al Zir in Saturday’s Investec Derby, with Frankie Dettori confirmed for Rewilding and Ahmed Ajtebi for Buzzword.
Three-time Derby winner Fallon’s appointment has seen a rush of money for Al Zir, ninth in the Guineas but by no means guaranteed to stay the extra distance at Epsom.
Confirming Fallon’s booking, Goldophin's racing manager Simon Crisford said: “Obviously his record in the Derby is fantastic and he was available.”
Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor has experienced a difficult spring but came off best as Roayh led home a 1-2-3 for the two Godolphin trainers in a maiden at Leicester yesterday.
It will have given his backers little comfort yesterday to hear Aidan O'Brien once again reiterate his opinion that St Nicholas Abbey can “walk on water”.
In fact, after learning that the long-time favourite will miss the Derby on Saturday, some of them will have been disposed to do something similar themselves, only with stones in their pockets.
O'Brien had admitted himself concerned that St Nicholas Abbey should have worked with an unprecedented lack of flair last Friday, and the market had since acquired an alarming aspect for those eagerly holding ante-post vouchers for so many months.
But the last embers of hope were not finally extinguished until the formal identification of a problem yesterday morning, when the colt emerged from his box moving stiffly behind.
“We always thought St Nicholas Abbey could walk on water, and it is very unfortunate for all concerned to have a setback like this so close to the big race,” said O’Brien.
Meanwhile, after heavy showers at Fairyhouse, a return to drying conditions should leave the ground riding near-perfect tonight when the David Wachman-Wayne Lordan alliance could capture a victory.
American-bred School Holidays has progressed for Wachman and can open her account in the Fairyhouse Summer Series Maiden.
Tyrone handler Andrew Oliver has high hopes for Miss Velocity in the Ballybin Handicap.