The Derby winner Sir Percy will miss Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe after suffering a minor injury. The Marcus Tregoning-trained colt, who has not raced since his narrow Epsom triumph in June, now has the Champion Stakes at Newmarket in 19 days' time as his last-chance saloon this season.
"We have decided against the Arc as he has niggled a shoulder muscle," said Tregoning yesterday. "It's nothing too serious, it just wouldn't come right in time for Sunday."
The intention all along has been that Sir Percy, who has raced only twice this year, would stay in training at four and so missing the Newmarket Group One as well would not be considered a disaster. "We will aim for the Champion, and we hope he will be in good shape by then," added Tregoning. "He has been in great form and this setback is just one of those annoying things."
Sir Percy had been around 14-1 for the Paris showpiece. His place as leading British-trained contender has now been taken by St Leger winner Sixties Icon, who will be supplemented for the race on Thursday at a cost of €60,000 (£40,000).
A jockey has yet to be named for the Jeremy Noseda-trained colt, the names in the frame being Frankie Dettori, who rode him to Classic victory at York but may divert to Shirocco if Christophe Soumillon is claimed by his retaining owner the Aga Khan for Mandesha, and Mick Kinane. "Whoever rides," said Noseda, "we know our fellow faces a tough task, but he has come out of York so well that we are going to roll the dice." Hurricane Run, last year's winner, his André Fabre stablemate Shirocco and Japanese challenger Deep Impact are vying for Arc favouritism at around 5-2, with another Fabre inmate, Rail Link - the form of whose Prix Niel victory was given a boost on Sunday when his immediate victim Youmzain took the Preis von Europa in Cologne - perceived as best of the three-year-olds.
As his guv'nor Aidan O'Brien indicated he would, Seamus Heffernan has lodged an appeal against Saturday's decision by the Ascot stewards to ban him for 14 days after his controversial role on Ballydoyle second string Ivan Denisovich in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes won by George Washington. Heffernan was judged to have indulged in proscribed team tactics as he came wide into the straight with Frankie Dettori on his outside on Godolphin's Librettist, who was eventually sixth. A date has yet to be set for the hearing.
A week today the battleground between racing's two superpowers, the men from Co Tipperary and those from Dubai who employ Dettori, shifts to the auction ring with the start of Europe's top yearling sale. And there may be fireworks early, for Lot 17 of more than 600 bluebloods to be offered over four sessions in the Tattersalls arena in Newmarket is a tempting target for both camps. The chestnut, bred by Kentucky-based Gretchen Jackson, is by Pivotal out of Bordighera and is thus a half-brother to both George Washington - who cost 1.15m guineas in the same ring two years ago - and Godolphin's three-time Group One winner Grandera.
The going for Newmarket's Cambridgeshire meeting starting on Thursday is now good to soft and 11 distaffers were yesterday declared for Saturday's Group One feature, the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes.
* Tony McCoy is likely to return at Hereford on Thursday after being out of action for eight weeks with a broken right wrist.
Nap: Willywont He
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