St Nicholas Abbey likely to miss Derby

IT is looking increasingly likely that the much-hyped St Nicholas Abbey will miss the Investec Derby at Epsom next Saturday.

Reported to have worked quite brilliantly earlier in the week, the son of Montjeu more than disappointed connections on the Ballydoyle gallops yesterday morning, prompting Aidan O’Brien to issue a statement.

Said O’Brien: “Johnny (Murtagh) rode St Nicholas Abbey this morning and felt the colt may not have shown the same sparkle as he had when he rode him on Tuesday morning, therefore he won’t make up his mind what horse he rides in the Investec Derby until the middle of next week.”

O’Brien is responsible for the first four in the betting – St Nicholas Abbey, Jan Vermeer, Midas Touch and Cape Blanco.

Murtagh committed to St Nicholas Abbey for Epsom a long time ago but it now looks virtually certain that will be on Jan Vermeer, so impressive when winning the Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh on his seasonal debut, at Epsom.

Jan Vermeer had a choice between the English Derby and the French equivalent at Chantilly and was surely originally earmarked for the latter.

St Nicholas Abbey was undefeated as last season’s champion two-year-old but could finish only sixth behind Makfi in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket while the other three have all won their Derby trials in impressive fashion.

My information regarding yesterday’s gallop was that St Nicholas Abbey worked particularly badly and coughed afterwards.

Kate Miller from William Hill reported that punters were quickly looking to back Jan Vermeer yesterday.

She said: “Punters have completely forgotten about St Nicholas Abbey.”

William Hill have reacted by promoting Jan Vermeer to favouritism, 11-4 from 6-1. They pushed out St Nicholas Abbey from 7-4 to 3-1.

Meanwhile, Frankie Dettori, who broke his Derby duck on Authorized in 2007, has been confirmed as the jockey for Rewilding.

William Hill bet: 11-4 Jan Vermeer, 3-1 St Nicholas Abbey, 7-1 Midas Touch, 9-1 Bullet Train, Cape Blanco, 10-1 Rewilding, Workforce, 11-1 Azmeel, 20-1 bar.

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