One of the most credible challengers to Frankel in the 2,000 Guineas, Dubai Prince, was ruled out yesterday of not only the Classic on the Rowley Mile, but also the Derby. The unbeaten colt, transferred at the end of his juvenile campaign from Dermot Weld to the Godolphin operation, has sustained a pelvic injury that will keep him off the track for the first half of the season.
The son of Shamardal, yet to race this year, had been as short as 12-1 for the Guineas. He had advertised his potential with a clear-cut success in a Group Three contest at Leopardstown before his inevitable switch from owner Sheikh Mohammed's original maroon-and-white colours to his Godolphin blue and the care of Mohammed Al Zarooni.
The colt's enforced absence (he has suffered a hairline fracture to the wing of his right hip) means that odds-on shot Frankel has further contracted in the Qipco Guineas lists, with the best price now available the 8-13 from Boylesports.
Of the pair next in the market the Ballydoyle inmate Roderic O'Connor – second to Frankel in the Dewhurst – has leapfrogged Jessica Harrington-trained Pathfork to 6-1 with the news that Ryan Moore will take the Classic ride. Godolphin's main hope for the colts' Classics is now Casamento, around 16-1 for the Newmarket race but as short as 10-1 for Epsom.
To say the home side's opposition to Frankel on Saturday week is drying up is apposite enough. The fair spring weather is frustrating Richard Fahey's efforts to ready Wootton Bassett, already behind schedule after a minor setback earlier in the year.
The Yorkshire-based trainer's plans to take his unbeaten stable star for a make-or-break racecourse gallop – awaydays can be more stimulating and beneficial than work in familiar surroundings – this week have been thwarted.
"We need rain badly and we're struggling to find somewhere to take him," Fahey said yesterday. "If the worst comes to the worst I'll work him at home; at least we know it's safe. But I'm afraid we're on the back foot."
* Chris McGrath's Nap
Sorcillera (4.20 Fontwell)
A repeat of her best placed efforts in open-sex company should be good enough for this poor mares' contest.
* Next best
Alkhawarah (4.10 Pontefract)
* One to watch
Yaseer (M Tregoning), a staying-on third in last week's Craven Stakes on only his third start, must fare better over further.
* Where the money's going
Aimigayle, 25-1 a week ago, is now 10-1 with sponsors Bet365 for Saturday's feature handicap chase at Sandown.