Following quickly on news of St Nicholas Abbey’s withdrawal from the Derby field, Aidan O’Brien gave a strong suggestion that Cape Blanco may also miss Saturday’s classic.
O’Brien said on Tuesday afternoon: "It is looking likely, but not definite, that Jan Vermeer, Midas Touch and At First Sight will be going for the Investec Derby and increasingly likely that Cape Blanco will be going for the Prix du Jockey Club along with Viscount Nelson."
As Cape Blanco’s odds drifted after this statement, bettors will be eagerly awaiting news of Johnny Murtagh’s preferred ride before making a final plunge on the race. Given recent betting activity for Jan Vermeer and the colt’s dominance in the market, now best odds of 2/1 with Paddy Power, expectation is Murtagh will stay loyal to the impressive Gallinule Stakes winner.
His other serious option for the race, Midas Touch, was best price at 7/1 with Ladbrokes late last night, the bookmaker reputed to have the inside track at Ballydoyle. While Midas Touch has been selected ahead of Cape Blanco for the Epsom race, Sir Michael Stoute’s Workforce, who finished second behind Cape Blanco in the Dante Stakes is the current second favourite and odds of 11/2 are available with most bookies.
The shake up in the Derby betting wasn’t exclusive to news from Ireland. Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford announced Kieren Fallon has been booked to ride Al Zir. Saeed bin Suroor’s charge has been cut as short as 16/1 with Boylesports, expect the 28/1 odds offered by William Hill to be short lived as betting interest in the colt is expected to gain further momentum.
Fallon had appeared unlikely to get a ride in this year’s renewal of the Classic but he can now look forward to partnering the son of the American stallion Medaglia D’Oro, who finished third in the Racing Post Trophy last year and ninth behind Makfi in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Crisford told reporters "Kieren Fallon’s record in the Derby is excellent" "He was available and has ridden for Godolphin before."
Ahmed Ajtebi had been expected to partner Al Zir but will now switch to Buzzword, trained by Mahmood al Zarooni, who was supplemented on Monday and remains a 66/1 chance with William Hill.