Heffernan in line to ride So You Think
It seems incredible that a horse with the reputation and price tag of So You Think can find himself without a regular jockey.
But with Ballydoyle first-choice Ryan Moore also being Michael Stoute's No 1, it has made for some awkward situations, such as that facing the Irish team ahead of Saturday's Coral-Eclipse Stakes.
In normal circumstances, Moore would be inked in for So You Think for the season, but Stoute has Workforce, last year's Derby and Arc winner, scheduled to contest many of the same races and it has led to speculation about partners for the £50m horse.
Yesterday, Stoute reported Workforce to be in good order and ready for a return to Sandown Park, where he won the Brigadier Gerard Stakes in a rousing comeback over course and distance last month.
"He's been confirmed at the five-day stage, and it's our intention to run on Saturday," Stoute said.
The trainer can reasonably expect his improving four-year-old to be spot on for a long-awaited meeting with the horse which capture headlines, even in defeat, at Royal Ascot.
But Stoute will also be keeping a close eye on the ground, hoping the surface does not become as quick as Ascot did for last year's running of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, in which Workforce performed dismally.
"I will talk to Andrew Cooper (Sandown's clerk of the course) on Wednesday. There is no sense in having a discussion early in the week," he said.
Workforce's massive physique makes the issue of ground even more important for Stoute. "He's a big boy," the trainer quipped. Moore is committed to Workforce, so who, then, is likely to come in for the So You Think mount?
According to key Ballydoyle sources, Seamie Heffernan continues to win over all in the camp and is a short-priced favourite for the ride in what promises to be an epic.
Heffernan took a back seat to colleague Colm O'Donoghue in last Sunday's Irish Derby -- he rode Seville into second behind Treasure Beach -- but his performance aboard Misty For Me in the Pretty Polly Stakes won plaudits in the right places.
Johnny Murtagh, who gave up the job at Ballydoyle, would suit So You Think because he appears to be a horse who needs to be stoked up. Murtagh is also known to be a personal favourite in one quarter at the famous Tipperary yard.
Kieren Fallon has apparently lost any popularity he once enjoyed within the ownership triumvirate, with the debacle over the Native Khan court case prior to the Epsom Derby seen as the last straw. Not only did he miss the ride on the Ed Dunlop-trained grey, he also had to sit on the sidelines, unable to partner Ballydoyle's Recital.
Aidan O'Brien believes there is no rush to decide who will get the ride.
"We'll see how he is at the start of the week and we'll sit down and chat about it," he said. "Joseph (O'Brien) rides him out every day, Seamie rides him in all his work, and Seamie rode him the day he won the first time at The Curragh.
"I don't think there's any scarcity of riders, so we'll decide if he's going to run or not first and then we can talk about who is going to ride him. We're delighted with him and everything has been good since Ascot."
So You Think is one of eight confirmations for the Eclipse, with O'Brien also leaving in Cape Blanco, Jan Vermeer and Alexander Pope.
Dunlop has entered his multiple Group One-winning filly Snow Fairy, which missed the Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh due to the soft conditions. The trainer will not make a final decision on her participation until later in the week, however.
He said: "Nothing is definite with a horse who has gone to Ireland and come back in the space of 36 hours. She seems fine and has started back cantering.
"She lost quite a bit of weight because of the journey, but she is putting it back on rapidly. I have also entered her in the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock, just in case something weird happened with the weather, so we'll see."
Apart from Workforce, Stoute is set to be represented by likely pacemaker Confront, while Roger Varian's Sri Putra, runner-up in the race 12 months ago, completes the possibles.
Meanwhile, the Nunthorpe Stakes at York is a possible objective for Invincible Ash after she secured a first Group-race victory at The Curragh on Sunday.
The six-year-old ran a number of excellent races at the Dubai Carnival earlier in the year and was not winning out of turn when coming home fast and late in the Sapphire Stakes.
She is entered in Newmarket's July Cup on Saturday week but trainer Mick Halford would prefer to find her an easier option before heading to the Knavesmire in August. (© Daily Telegraph, London)