Ernest Hemingway to carry O’Brien’s King George hopes
St Nicholas Abbey has been retired following a serious injury suffered at Ballydoyle on Tuesday morning. The talented son of Montjeu will now undergo surgery at Fethard Equine Hospital on Wednesday morning as vets battle to save him for a stud career.
It brings an end to a glittering career that began when he slaughtered his rivals in the Racing Post Trophy in 2009. He was a beaten favourite in the 2000 Guineas the following year but would go on to win nine of his 21 career starts and almost £5million in prize money.
The highlight of his career was his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2011 when ridden by Joseph O’Brien, the youngest winning rider in Breeders’ Cup history. In March he won the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan and won the Coronation Cup at Epsom for a second time on his final appearance this summer.
His absence has caused a major reshuffle in the market for this Saturday’s King George VII and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. Cirrus des Aigles, officially the highest rated horse in training this season, is now 11-8 favourite from 2-1.
Novellist, the winner at Saint-Cloud when Cirrus des Aigles could do no better than fifth, is now a strong second favourite at 7-2. In-form Johnny Murtagh, successful in the Irish Oaks last weekend, has been snapped up to ride the German-trained colt for Andreas Wohler.
Irish Derby winner Trading Leather is now in to 9-2 whilst Ektihaam and the supplemented Hillstar are now 7-1 for the Ascot showpiece. Jockey Paul Hanagan has elected to go to York on Saturday to partner Mukhadram in the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes in preference to Ektihaam.
Mark Johnston’s Universal is reported to be in fine shaper following his recent success at the Newmarket July meeting and he is now 16-1 along with Ernest Hemingway. The latter is a stable companion of St Nicholas Abbey and recently produced a career-best performance to win the Curragh Cup.
He sprinted five lengths clear of Royal Diamond at the Curragh and the runner-up has since given the form a nice boost. He will now be O’Brien’s leading hope in the race having been priced as high as 40-1 at the start of the week.