If Sunday's Irish Derby is starting to lose a little importance after the defection of Benny The Dip to Sandown and Peintre Celebre to Longchamp, the race still has heavy significance for Olivier Peslier. The Chantilly- based jockey has been claimed by Daniel Wildenstein to ride Loup Sauvage at the Curragh and thus misses the ride on the mighty Helissio in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. More significantly, it is likely to result in him being replaced as the Arc winner's regular rider.
Bruno Ridoux, racing manager to Helissio's owner, Enrique Sarasola, confirmed that Cash Asmussen will take over on the colt's back and that the new arrangement is likely to become permanent.
"We don't think that it is fair to start chopping and changing riders with a horse of Helissio's calibre," he said. "We have to take into account that Peslier is also very unlikely to be available in the Arc de Triomphe."
The Arc remains Helissio's long-term target, and it is also the goal of Peintre Celebre, Wildenstein's Prix du Jockey-Club winner.
Helissio will be using Sunday's Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud as a stepping stone towards extending his formidable record (seven wins from nine races) on his first foray to Britain for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on 26 July.
Loup Sauvage is a top-priced 7-1 for Sunday's race, in which Silver Patriarch dominates the betting after 12 horses were declared at yesterday's acceptance stage, including three -Desert King, Johan Cruyff and Strawberry Roan -from the Aidan O'Brien stable that has sent out the winners of both Irish Classics so far this year.
Silver Patriarch, the Derby runner-up, pleased John Dunlop in his pre- Curragh gallop yesterday. "All went well," Dunlop said. "He did a nice piece of work and it is now absolutely all systems go for Ireland."
Punters looking for rather longer odds than the 11-10 available about Silver Patriarch were out in force yesterday chasing the Tote Jackpot at Warwick, where a carry-over of pounds 453,193 tempted speculators to add another pounds 426,305 to the pot.
With 6-1 the longest winning odds, the prize was reasonably achievable and resulted in a dividend of just pounds 5,644.40 to a pounds 1 stake. As David Hood, of William Hill, pointed out: "The SP accumulator paid over 8,682-1. This makes the Jackpot dividend look paltry. The pool was pounds 879,499, but this was before the Tote sliced 29% (255,054) off for their deductions."
Rob Hartnett, of the Tote, countered: "I will listen to such criticism the day that 426,305 pounds 1 accumulator bets are placed on a mid-week Warwick meeting."
A rather more serious casualty at the meeting than punters' losing bets was Mark Rimmer. He suffered internal injuries after his mount, Irish Fiction, clipped the heels of another runner in the selling race and fell fatally, causing a pile-up. Rimmer was detained in hospital where he was described as conscious and comfortable.
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