Bookies pocket £2m from Abbey missing Derby

It will have given his backers little comfort yesterday to hear Aidan O'Brien once again reiterate his opinion that St Nicholas Abbey can "walk on water". In fact, after learning that the long-time favourite will miss the Investec Derby on Saturday, some of them will have been disposed to do something similar themselves, only with stones in their pockets.

The news can scarcely have come as a shock. O'Brien had admitted himself concerned that St Nicholas Abbey should have worked with an unprecedented lack of flair last Friday, and the market had since acquired an alarming aspect for those eagerly holding ante-post vouchers for so many months. But the last embers of hope were not finally extinguished until the formal identification of a problem yesterday morning, when the colt emerged from his box moving stiffly behind.

If his reappearance defeat in the 2,000 Guineas had not provided an adequate rebuke for his hasty anointment as heir to Sea The Stars, then this discovery of a physical fragility in St Nicholas Abbey will perhaps renew a proper sense not only of the metronomic brilliance of that champion, but also, above all, for the constitution that underpinned his uninterrupted progress through the top races of 2009.

The discomfort in St Nicholas Abbey was traced to his hindquarters. Once again, his trainer made the news public with commendable speed. "St Nicholas Abbey was due to work first thing this morning," O'Brien said. "However when he came out of his box, we noticed he was stiff behind. He had looked slightly stiff yesterday evening. His work on Friday last was a little lack-lustre, for him, and that was the first time we had seen anything different, but he was fine afterwards.

"He was immediately examined and scanned by our vets this morning," he added. "They found a slight muscle injury high up in his hind quarter. This meant he could not work today, and we were advised to give him an easy few days. Obviously this will preclude him from running in the Investec Derby on Saturday. We always thought St Nicholas Abbey could walk on water, and it is very unfortunate for all concerned to have a setback like this so close to the big race."

Any bookmakers in the water, meanwhile, will only be there to shed crocodile tears. David Williams of Ladbrokes estimated that £2m had been staked on St Nicholas Abbey for Epsom, across the industry, since his emergence last summer. "It's dreadful news for punters," he admitted. "They kept the faith all winter. There's no way to soften the blow. It highlights the perils of ante-post punting, but the timing and scale of the news have combined to render it very bleak news indeed."

There was little consolation, meanwhile, for others who have pinned their colours to the Ballydoyle mast, as no reprieve seems likely for Cape Blanco, who extended his immaculate record in the Dante Stakes at York. O'Brien indicated that the plan remains for him to run in the Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly on Sunday instead. Coral removed Cape Blanco from their betting altogether.

Having had the first four in the betting after the completion of the various trials, O'Brien's realistic challenge – bar a potential pacemaker in At First Sight – is now confined to Jan Vermeer, heavily backed since Friday and the likely mount of Johnny Murtagh, and Midas Touch.

Nor has he helped his cause, on the face of it, by turning his back on his former stable jockey, Kieren Fallon, a winner of three Derbys who had finally retrieved top form over the past few days. Fallon has been left to ride Godolphin's third string, Al Zir, with Frankie Dettori confirmed for Rewilding and Ahmed Ajtebi for Buzzword.

Al Zir was ninth in the Guineas but is by no means guaranteed to stay the extra distance at Epsom. His trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor, has experienced a difficult spring – not least with his former assistant, Mahmood Al Zarooni, making such a quick start – but came off best as Roayh led home a 1-2-3 for the two Godolphin trainers in a juvenile maiden at Leicester yesterday.

Investec Derby (Totesport odds): 13-8 Jan Vermeer, 6 Bullet Train, Midas Touch, Workforce, 9-1 Cape Blanco, 10-1 Rewilding, 12-1 Azmeel, 20-1 bar.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Luc Jordan (6.50 Kempton) Progressive last autumn – winning over course and distance – and a promising resumption at Chester, never able to reach top gear after getting stuck on the inside. Not given a hard time to finish midfield, and stable in excellent form now.

Next best

Avon River (8.50 Kempton) Came to life in blinkers at Windsor the other day and remains well in under a penalty here. Having travelled strongly, likely to prove equally effective dropped in trip tonight.

One to watch

Crown Choice (W R Swinburn) Represents a trainer in much better form and produced his best effort on turf at Newmarket the other day, cutting them down stylishly before fading in a three-way finish – promising amends with emphasis on speed.

Where the money's going

Workforce is 5-1 from 6-1 for the Investec Derby with William Hill.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices