Connections of Carlton House remain “extremely hopeful” the Investec Derby favourite will make Saturday’s race, despite suffering a late setback.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Dante Stakes winner has in recent weeks been the subject of much media interest due to the fact he is owned by the Queen.
But on Tuesday it was revealed the colt had suffered a minor injury scare ahead of the Epsom Classic.
In a statement issued to Press Association Sport, Her Majesty’s racing manager, John Warren, said: “Following a routine canter yesterday, Carlton House was found to have a small amount of filling in his near-fore joint at evening stables last night.”
Carlton House worked over six furlongs on Sunday and also had a routine canter on Monday, after which the problem was discovered.
Stoute’s colt underwent X-rays on Tuesday morning, but no serious damage was revealed.
“Precautionary X-rays were taken this morning which revealed no abnormalities and we remain hopeful that he is on target for the Investec Derby on Saturday,” Warren added.
It is thought the injury is no more than a small strain, with Carlton House poised to continue steady work for the remainder of the week.
Warren told Racing UK: “Luckily, his important work is now out of the way.
“It would only be routine cantering that would be left to be undertaken for the remainder of the week.
“It could be the equivalent of a footballer straining his ankle.
“It was not evident in his cantering yesterday that he actually took a false step or anything, and the horse is sound this morning.
“It was a little bit sore and they will be icing, hosing and wrapping to try and keep the joint well looked after.
“We are still extremely hopeful but it will be a day-by-day thing.
“I suspect that it will be well cared for during the day and this evening.
“In the morning a little bit more information will come to the surface.”
Several bookmakers subsequently lengthened Carlton House’s odds to claim Derby glory on Saturday afternoon.
Ladbrokes were as short as 5-4 and had been expecting a Royal gamble, but he is now available at 6-4.
Spokesman David Williams said: “We expected the royal bandwagon to start rolling into overdrive this week but the opposite has been true.
“Carlton House is being overlooked for the time being as punters give the Queen’s favourite a bit of a swerve.
“Rumours of a slight injury setback have scared the punters away.”
William Hill now offer odds of 6-4 (from 11-8).
Spokesperson Kate Miller added: “It’s a last-gasp setback but punters and connections have reacted in a fairly relaxed way and we’ve only eased his price fractionally.
“Whilst it remains a big concern, such is the strength of his challenge that we suspect he could manage a victory on three legs.”
Paddy Power briefly closed their market, but now make Carlton House 15-8 and are offering a non-runner no bet concession.
Ed Dunlop, meanwhile, put some final touches to the preparation of his Derby challenger Native Khan on Tuesday morning.
The Newmarket trainer was involved in a merry-go-round of jockeys on Monday when Kieren Fallon, the grey’s intended partner at Epsom, chose Aidan O’Brien’s Recital.
After finding out Oliver Peslier, who steered Native Khan to third in the 2000 Guineas, was also unavailable, Dunlop instead chose to put him in the experienced hands of Johnny Murtagh.
“Johnny only found out he had the ride at six o’clock last night, so Native Khan did a piece of work this morning with one of the usual work-riders, and it went very well,” said Dunlop, who did not disclose whether the Irishman would have a sit on the colt before Saturday afternoon.
The trainer elaborated on www.edunlop.com: “We are delighted to have Johnny on our side.
“He has already won the race on Sinndar, High Chaparral and Motivator, and he is a world-class jockey with a fantastic record around Epsom.
“He finished third on Ouija Board in the 2004 Arc, so we know him well, and I am sure that he will do a great job for us.
“Obviously, it was disappointing hearing that Kieren had changed his mind, and I felt particularly sorry for the owners, who wanted him to ride and thought that they had their man.
“We then went for Olivier Peslier, who rode Native Khan in the 2000 Guineas, but he has to ride for the Wertheimer brothers at Longchamp on Saturday, so had to decline.
“However, getting Johnny is a real coup, and we are very happy about it.”
Murtagh is delighted to take the ride and has thanked his retainer, the Aga Khan, for allowing him to make the journey to Epsom.
Murtagh said: “I’m delighted to be in a position to accept the rides on Native Khan in the Derby and Dancing Rain in the Oaks.
“I’d like to thank his Highness (the Aga Khan) and John Oxx for giving me permission to ride in those races.”