John Oxx has emphasised the good personal relationship he continues to have with the Aga Khan despite some of the prince's horses moving from his yard to Dermot Weld's, and that he will continue to train up to 20 horses for one of the world's leading owners in 2014.
However it is also understood the legendary trainer of Sinndar, Alamshar, Azamour and other Group One stars in the famous green colours will get no yearlings – the prospective juvenile crop of 2014 – from the Aga Khan’s operation this year.
The surprise move comes on the back of an extensive reshuffle of the Aga Khan’s thoroughbred interests in both France and Ireland, with Weld added to his roster of Irish trainers on the back of a season in which Oxx’s horses have been under a cloud due to illness.
Declan McDonogh, appointed the Aga's retained jockey in Ireland last year after Johnny Murtagh's dismissal from the post, will not have his contract renewed and other jockey moves in France see Christophe Soumillon return to the post he lost four years ago in favour of Christophe Lemaire.
Oxx didn’t wish to comment on the yearlings issue yesterday but stressed his own personal relationship with the owner remains solid.
“We have had 24 years of a very successful association and I still have a very good relationship with his highness,” said the Curragh trainer whose last Group One winner for the Aga Khan was Alandi in the 2009 Prix Du Cadran, just over an hour after Sea The Stars’ epic Arc success at Longchamp.
“I will have between 18 and 20 horses for him next year; eighteen two year olds and possibly a couple of older horses too.”
The decision not to send yearlings to Oxx however will be seen as very significant given the length of the association and the success it generated. It has already been confirmed Weld will receive yearlings. Michael Halford is the Aga Khan’s other trainer in Ireland.
Horses were first sent to Oxx's Currabeg yard from the Aga Khan's massive breeding operation in 1989, and the volume increased dramatically on the back of the fallout from Aliysa's disqualification from the 1989 Epsom Oaks due to a positive drugs test, and the owner subsequently removing horses from training in the UK.
Elsewhere, watering continued at Leopardstown yesterday ahead of Saturday evening's renewal of the €750,000 feature which could yet see Weld elect to run his high-class filly Princess Highway.
"She is a very talented filly and I don't think we've seen the best of her so far this season. She has been left in the Champion Stakes and we will give it full thought, but she is a very possible runner," said Weld.
The Group One UK highlight on Saturday is the Haydock Sprint Cup which will see Ryan Moore team up with Tom Hogan's star Gordon Lord Byron, part of a potentially strong Irish team that could also include Salde Power, Viztoria and Cristoforo Colombo.
Feile Na Mban can confirm trainer Jim Bolger’s considerable regard for her with a victory at Gowran this evening.
An eight-length winner of her maiden at Leopardstown in July, the daughter of New Approach was afterwards judged “good, not easy, but good” by Bolger and once again she sports both a hood and jockey Ronan Whelan who does much of the work with her at home.
A mark of 94 in her first handicap hardly makes her a blot, and the older filly Encrypted Message ran a fine race over the course and distance on her previous start. Bolger's judgement of what he has to work with is famous and Feile Na Mban looks one to check out.