No shortage of motivation for Heffernan as he targets Royal Ascot glory

Ballydoyle No 2 sent back to ‘jockey school’ after breach of whip regulations

Ryan Moore will ride Aidan O’Brien’s Battleground in the St James’s Palace Stakes on the first day of Royal Ascot. Photograph: Caroline Norris/Inpho

Ryan Moore will ride Aidan O’Brien’s Battleground in the St James’s Palace Stakes on the first day of Royal Ascot. Photograph: Caroline Norris/Inpho

 

Séamus Heffernan will hope to secure more Group One glory at Royal Ascot on Tuesday shortly after having been referred on for “tuition” in how best to use the whip.

The veteran 48-year-old, one of the most successful Irish jockeys in the modern era, breached the whip regulations once again at Gowran on Sunday when picking up a six-day suspension on Joupe.

However, there was a sting in the tail for Heffernan who was referred by the stewards to the Racing Academy and Centre of Education (Race) for “one day’s tuition on the correct use of the whip”.

The prospect of a multiple Classic winning rider, with a CV that includes the 2019 Epsom Derby on Anthony Van Dyck, being effectively sent back to ‘jockey school’ might seem incongruous but stranger things have happened that Heffernan using the big stage to deliver a top-flight riposte.

Empress Josephine in last month’s Irish 1,000 Guineas was just the latest evidence of how effectively he can exploit the No 2 position at Ballydoyle.

That Classic outcome was also another example of Ryan Moore being on the ‘wrong’ Aidan O’Brien runner in a top race and the Englishman has had to make another couple of difficult choices on day one of Royal Ascot.

The St James’s Palace once again sees a clash between horses that have been battling it out in the Classics and those that have waited for Ascot

The shock Breeders’ Cup winner Order Of Australia is his pick over Lope Y Fernandez in the Queen Anne Stakes, although the presence of the overwhelming favourite Palace Pier might result in everything else fighting over place money.

O’Brien runs three in the other Group One mile feature and Moore has got off Wembley to team up with Battleground.

Having opted for Wembley in both the English and Irish Guineas, as well as when runner-up to St Mark’s Basilica in last year’s Dewhurst, Moore’s decision looks significant.

Wembley finished last in the Irish Guineas, and failed to fire behind Poetic Flare at Newmarket, although he has clearly shown himself better than that bare form on the Ballydoyle gallops.

Heffernan now takes over on a colt whose best would still put him to the forefront of Tuesday’s contenders but whose odds reflect Moore’s decision to opt for Battleground.

The St James’s Palace once again sees a clash between horses that have been battling it out in the Classics and those that have waited for Ascot.

Palace Pier last year, and Without Parole in 2018, successfully followed the latter route for the John Gosden team, who this time try to do the same through the unbeaten Mostahdaf.

His Heron Stakes form is well represented while the highly touted one-time Derby hope Maximal drops back to a mile under Ireland’s champion jockey Colin Keane.

As befits a speedball, Battaash lives on his nerves so it was probably no coincidence he broke his duck in the King’s Stand last year when no crowds were present.

It will be a nosier affair this time as well as a first start of the season for this top-class sprinter.

In the circumstances there might be betting value in the three-year-old filly Winter Power. The form of her York win last time has been boosted and Lady Aurelia proved in 2017 how a filly can beat her elders in this race.

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