Connections of Harbinger, having decided that Frankie Dettori's availability remained subject to too many imponderables, yesterday opted to go with a bird in the hand and confirmed Olivier Peslier as their colt's jockey in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Saturday week. Dettori's commitments to Godolphin mean not only that he would have to ride Cavalryman in the unlikely event that he were to run at Ascot, but also that he might be required to ride at York the same day instead. Peslier, in contrast, had volunteered himself with no strings attached and will duly be able to make the acquaintance of Harbinger on the gallops this weekend.
The vacancy on the impressive Hardwicke Stakes winner arose when Sir Michael Stoute's stable jockey, Ryan Moore, elected to stay loyal to the Derby winner, Workforce, in their showdown at Ascot.
Peslier's booking would appear to represent a final nail in the coffin for Kieren Fallon's long-standing association with Stoute, to whose service he returned during a long drugs suspension. Stoute has conspicuously failed to give Fallon opportunities of any kind this season. Fallon might yet cling to the hope that he could instead receive a summons from another former employer in Aidan O'Brien, to ride Cape Blanco in the absence of Johnny Murtagh, who picked up a ban for interference at Newmarket last Friday. But Fallon has only been given the odd scrap from Ballydoyle since his comeback, with O'Brien instead tending to support his regular work-riders, Seamus Heffernan and Colm O'Donoghue.
Regardless, Harry Herbert, the manager of Harbinger's owners, Highclere Thoroughbreds, sounded more than satisfied to settle for Peslier. "Olivier's record speaks for itself," he said. "He's a wonderful big-race jockey and rides Ascot brilliantly. He's had big wins there recently on Ouija Board and Vision D'Etat, and actually won for us there a while ago on Delilah in the Princess Royal  when he rode a brilliant race. With a race as important as this, you really need someone with a very cool head, great experience and riding at the top of their game – and he certainly ticks all those boxes."
Harry Findlay, the colourful owner and gambler who has been warned off for six months by the British Horseracing Authority, yesterday took his case to its appeals panel. He left a five-hour hearing without comment, and is due to discover the outcome this morning. Findlay was banned until 10 December for breaching rules against owners laying bets against their own horses, even though he was a substantial "net" backer of Gullible Gordon – who formally raced in a partnership between Paul Barber and Findlay's mother – on both the relevant occasions. Having represented himself at the initial hearing, Findlay was accompanied yesterday by specialist lawyers as he protested against the severity of his punishment. In the meantime, dismayed by the turn of events, he has given Barber his half-share in the top-class steeplechaser Denman, in exchange for outright ownership of Big Fella Thanks, who has moved from Paul Nicholls – also trainer of Gullible Gordon – to Ferdy Murphy.
Another man whose involvement in the Turf has helped capture public imagination, Michael Owen, was on hand to see his colours carried to success in the first two races at Uttoxeter yesterday. Though his Manchester United team-mates are in the United States on a pre-season tour, Owen is still recuperating from the hamstring injury that brought his season to a premature end in the spring.
In France, the Group One Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp was won by Behkabad, who defeated the Prix du Jockey-Club runner-up Planteur by three-quarters of a length. The winner had come fourth at Chantilly. The pair finished five lengths clear of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Jan Vermeer in the Bastille Day prize. Jean-Claude Rouget’s winner is to be aimed at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, for which Coral make him a 10-1 shot.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Amends (7.45 Epsom) Acquired a low mark in maidens but looked a new horse, following a gelding operation, when making his handicap debut at Lingfield last week.
Volcanic Dust (2.40 Leicester) Repeatedly caught the eye in maidens, not least last time, learning all the while as she closed under a kind ride.
One to watch
Drunken Sailor (L M Cumani) Ran another cracking race in defeat at York on Saturday.
Where the money's going
Rosanara is 4-1 from 9-2 with William Hill for the Darley Irish Oaks on Sunday.Reuse content