Bolshoi Ballet to be sole Ballydoyle runner in Derby as Dettori gets Leeper ride
Aidan O'Brien has revealed a major shift in plans for Saturday's Cazoo Derby on the eve of the Classic's declaration stage, with Bolshoi Ballet likely to be his only runner among six possible candidates he had left in the race.
Dante third High Definition, who had been the long-range Derby favourite over the winter before his stablemate surged to the head of the market with impressive victories at Leopardstown this season, appears likely to wait for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.
Frankie Dettori would likely have been aboard High Definition and his absence allows the 50-year-old to partner John Leeper.
Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, O'Brien told the Racing Post: "Things could change before 10am, but at the moment it looks as though there's going to be one runner for us at Epsom on Saturday, Bolshoi Ballet. It looks like High Definition will come to the Curragh for the Irish Derby."
The trainer, who has won the Derby a record eight times across the last two decades, added: "It means there's a little bit of extra time for High Definition and the two of them are getting a shot for the first time at a Derby each. That's not to say that the horse from Epsom [Bolshoi Ballet] wouldn't come back to the Curragh as well."
After news he would likely be Ballydoyle's only representative in the race, Bolshoi Ballet was shortened to evens favourite.
Expanding on the reasoning behind the decision to bypass Epsom with last season's Beresford Stakes winner, O'Brien said: "We think High Definition is very versatile, we don't think it's a track thing. We think he's a very good horse.
"A little extra time definitely won't do him any harm. It was to give the two of them a chance until they have to meet. The Irish Derby is a very important race, as is the Derby at Epsom. It's the lads' choice and they obviously can make the choice."
He added: "We were lucky to get the run into him at York and if we hadn't, we wouldn't have had a decision to make because he couldn't go to Epsom. He got the run and then we had a decision to make."
The news means that O'Brien could have only one runner in the race for the first time since 2004.
The Ballydoyle handler said of his other entrants in the race: "Sir Lamorak will go to Royal Ascot, probably for the King Edward VII or one of those races. Kyprios will go there as well for the Queen's Vase.
"Van Gogh will head to France for the Prix du Jockey Club with St Mark's Basilica. The Mediterranean is declared for the Nijinsky Stakes at Leopardstown on Thursday."
Dettori switches to John Leeper
One man not disappointed by High Definition's defection was Ed Dunlop, who trains John Leeper for owner-breeder Cristina Patino.
Adam Kirby had been booked, but only because Dettori was likely to be engaged on an O'Brien horse.
"Frankie was the first choice and was approached quite a while ago, but he has been riding a lot for Aidan in England, and that was going to happen until the bolt out of the blue from Ballydoyle this afternoon," said Dunlop.
"There are no negatives with Frankie riding in the Derby and the horse's work is all done now. He's done everything we've wanted him to do so far, and touch wood, everything is going well going into the race.
"The news today came a bit out of the blue, but once Mrs Patino heard, she was very keen and instructed us to see if Frankie was available."
Coral: Evens Bolshoi Ballet, 6 Mac Swiney, 7 John Leeper, Mohaafeth, 15-2 High Definition, 9 Hurricane Lane, 12 Third Realm, 25 One Ruler, Van Gogh, Youth Spirit, 33 Adayar, Lone Eagle, Sir Lamorak, Southern Lights, 40 Bar
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