De Sousa and O’Shea leading contenders to succeed Hills

A decision on a successor to Richard Hills as retained jockey to owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum is expected to be made soon.

Sheikh Hamdan’s racing manager Angus Gold said they were keen to make an announcement shortly, with the start of the British turf season just weeks away.

“Nothing has been finalised yet. There has been plenty of speculation and now we have to think what to do and I need to speak to Sheikh Hamdan before anything is confirmed,” said Gold.

“It’s Sheikh Hamdan’s call, so I’ve got to confirm everything with him first.”

While his understudy Tadhg O’Shea was immediately installed hot favourite, Silvestre de Sousa attracted huge support and betting was suspended.

Gold is optimistic a new role can be found for Hills, who has made it clear he is keen to continue to be a member of Sheikh Hamdan’s operation.

“I’ve got to talk to Sheikh Hamdan about this. Hopefully he can still be involved and I know he’s still very keen to continue to ride work and to do anything that he can,” he said.

* Twice Over will not run in the Dubai World Cup on March 31.

Henry Cecil’s seven-year-old has had two unsuccessful shots at the Meydan showpiece, and connections have decided not to have another go.

Last season he showed his fire still burns brightly by beating stablemate Midday in the Juddmonte International at York to provide his owner, Prince Khalid Abdullah, with a first win in the race he sponsors.

“He’s not going to go to Dubai this year,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, Abdullah’s racing manager. “He’s fine at the moment but it’s too early to say where we’ll start off this season.”

nTeddy Grimthorpe would be “very surprised” were Frankel and Black Caviar to meet at Royal Ascot.

Black Caviar stretched her unbeaten record to 19 at the weekend, but the Australian sensation was racing over five furlongs, having run over seven furlongs the week before.

The six-furlong Golden Jubilee Stakes has been the long-held plan for Black Caviar should she travel to England in the summer, although she is believed likely to get an entry in the Queen Anne Stakes over a mile.

Henry Cecil has stated his intent on stepping Frankel up to 10 furlongs this season, but he may still run in the Queen Anne after he reappears at that trip in the Lockinge at Newbury in May.

“Black Caviar is clearly exceptional, but I can’t speak for them regarding what race she will run in at Ascot,” said Grimthorpe, owner Prince Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager.

“If it happens, it happens, but it feels like we’ve got slightly different agendas.”

nMichael Owen has sold half of his St Leger runner-up Brown Panther to Betfair co-founder Andrew Black.

Writing on trainer Tom Dascombe’s website, www.manorhousestables.com, Owen revealed he has turned down several offers for the Royal Ascot winner but could not refuse Black’s terms.

Black has been heavily involved in the process of building up Owen’s Manor House Stables in Cheshire into a major force.

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