Irish hopes of more Derby glory dented by Zawraq's absence
The prospect of a fourth successive Irish-trained Investec Derby winner receded slightly yesterday when Zawraq failed to recover in time to be declared for tomorrow's Epsom Classic.
Dermot Weld's colt was found to be slightly lame following a routine piece of work on Tuesday. He effectively failed a fitness test yesterday and didn't appear among the final 12 declarations.
It echoes the predicament of Weld's Free Eagle, a similarly exciting three-year-old that was denied any participation in the Classics due to injury.
After Pat Smullen exercised Zawraq yesterday, Angus Gold, racing manager to owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, relayed the jockey's concerns.
"He said that when Zawraq flexed one of his joints he was a bit sore," Gold explained. "Maybe it is something to do with a joint that did not show up on the scans or X-rays.
"He did a bit of work this morning and moved beautifully but by the time he got back to the yard he was definitely not right again. It's very bad timing."
Of course, all is not lost in terms of the Irish challenge, given that Aidan O'Brien, who is responsible for the last three Derby winners, will still saddle three runners.
Giovanni Canaletto, a full-brother to the Ballydoyle genius' 2013 hero Ruler Of The World, has been backed into as low as 6/1 third favourite since Ryan Moore was booked to ride and doubts emerged over Zawraq.
However, he has won just one of his three career starts, and still looked green when beaten by the filly Curvy - a handicap winner on her previous start off a mark of 84 - in a Curragh Group Three less than a fortnight ago.
As expected, O'Brien's Kilimanjaro and Hans Holbein are among the final declarations, while Ken Condon's Success Days will be a lively outsider under Shane Foley, although the drying ground - good ahead of today's card - may not play to his strengths.
Indeed, John Gosden, who is responsible for market leaders Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs, has suggested that the latter might not run if he doesn't feel that there is sufficient juice in the ground.
Ronan Whelan will partner the 250/1 outsider Carbon Dating for Pat Shanahan.