Dermot Weld unhappy with Smullen suspension
Passage ‘doubtful’ for French Leger
Jockeys Johnny Murtagh (right), Pat Smullen (second right) and Billy Lee (third right) all received whip bans arising out of this finish to the Qipco Long Distance Cup at Ascot last Saturday. Photograph: Getty Images
Dermot Weld describes Rite Of Passage as “doubtful” for this Sunday’s French St Leger at Longchamp but is much more definitive in his views on jockey Pat Smullen’s seven-day suspension for his use of the whip at Ascot at the weekend, describing it as “uncalled for.”
Smullen got the ban on Pale Mimosa who finished fourth to Royal Diamond in a controversial Long Distance Cup that saw the winner’s rider Johnny Murtagh also get suspended for seven days while another Irish- based jockey, Billy Lee, got nine days for his use of the whip.
“I was very surprised and disappointed that Pat Smullen got seven days for the whip. It was uncalled for. They didn’t take into account Pat’s excellent record. He is not a whip jockey, as everyone knows. The filly responded all the way and she has come out of the race 100 per cent fit and well,” said the Curragh trainer yesterday.
The suspensions start for all three jockeys on Saturday week and are not an issue for Smullen this weekend when the Juddmonte-owned filly Lanyard could bid for Group Three honours in the JRA Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.
Lanyard, a five-length winner on her debut at Listowel, is the sole filly among 13 horses left in the Killavullan at yesterday’s forfeit stage.
“Originally I had been thinking of the Eyrefield Stakes for her but with all this rain we’re having, if it turned up very soft at Leopardstown, she could run on Saturday,” said Weld.
Ground conditions at the Co Dublin course were officially “yielding” but with an unsettled forecast for the rest of the week.
Aidan O’Brien has left in four colts including Stubbs who hasn’t been seen in action since finishing behind his stable companion War Command in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. Another maiden winner left in is Ger Lyons’ Curragh maiden winner Obliterator, a half brother to the Irish Guineas victor, Just The Judge, who carries the colours of Qatar Racing.
A single British possible remains in the Killavullan, the Hamilton winner Invincible Strike from Tom Tate’s yard.
The 2010 Ascot Gold Cup hero Rite Of Passage remains in contention for Sunday’s Group One Prix Royal Oak, however Weld admitted that a trip to Paris for his injury-plagued star is now doubtful.
“It’s coming a bit soon to get him 100 per cent right,” he said. “I’ve been constrained in the workouts I’ve been able to give him. But no definite decision will be taken until later in the week.”
Saturday’s other black-type race at Leopardstown is the Listed Trigo Stakes which has attracted 14 entries, the most intriguing of which could be the Aga Khan’s filly Tarana.
Winner of her sole career start to date last year, Tarana was regarded as a potential classic filly for 2013 but has yet to be seen in action this season.
In contrast, the Group One sprinter Maarek has been busy this season and will be back for more in 2014 after finishing out of the money behind Slade Power at Ascot on Saturday.
“He’s fine. His blood tests have come back fine. It was one of those days. The race wasn’t run to suit him and him messing around in the stalls didn’t help either,” said trainer Barry Lalor’s assistant, Evanna McCutcheon yesterday.
“He lost a shoe as well which obviously wasn’t ideal but I think the lack of pace and playing up in the stalls were the main issues,” she said.
“He’s going for his holidays and he’ll come back next year. Wherever there’s ease in the ground we’ll have him right and ready,” she added.