Speculation grows Ballydoyle to replace Spencer

Jamie Spencer has refused to comment on intense speculation in Ireland that his job as stable jockey to the powerful Aidan O’Brien yard may be about to end.

Jamie Spencer has refused to comment on intense speculation in Ireland that his job as stable jockey to the powerful Aidan O’Brien yard may be about to end.

The young rider issued a statement last night through his agent Eddie Byrne, who said Spencer had “no comment to make on speculation regarding his position at Ballydoyle”.

But bookmakers Cashmans have suspended betting on this year’s Irish jockeys’ championship after reporting plenty of money for Johnny Murtagh and Michael Kinane yesterday.

Spencer, who won the title for the first time last year, began the week as evens favourite to retain his crown, with Kinane at 3-1 and Murtagh at 4-1.

Weight of money forced Murtagh down to 5-4 and Kinane to 6-4 yesterday before the firm stopped taking bets.

Spokesman Joe Burke said: “If we had this kind of betting in a horse race you would say for sure that the favourite is a non-runner.”

Spencer was inevitably under pressure last year in his first season in his high-profile role with O’Brien, and he was stung by criticism of some of his rides.

But he ended the year as Ireland’s champion at the age of 24 and his link-up with the Ballydoyle stable produced late-season Group One winners in Ad Valorem (Middle Park Stakes) and Oratorio (Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere).

However, there were plenty of low points, too, in a poor year for the powerful operation, in particular defeats for the likes of One Cool Cat, Antonius Pius and Powerscourt.

Spencer was disqualified on Powerscourt after finishing first in the Arlington Million, and was then criticised by some for committing too early on him in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

He also came under fire in some quarters for his ride on the frustrating Antonius Pius, who finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

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