Roger Teal has been forced to find a new jockey for Oxted as his star sprinter bids for back-to-back victories in the Group Three Abernant Stakes at Newmarket.
Cieren Fallon is Oxted’s usual pilot, and scored the biggest win of his career so far on him when they landed the Group One July Cup last season.
The champion apprentice suffered a heavy weekend fall on the all-weather at Lingfield, though – and despite returning for one unplaced ride at Newmarket on Tuesday, he will not be available to partner Oxted on Thursday.
“We’ve had to change the jockey today – Cieren’s not feeling to great, so Ryan Moore rides him now,” said Teal.
“Hopefully they’ll get on together – I’m looking forward to running him.”
The five-year-old won the Abernant on his return last season, the second leg of a long-range hat-trick of successes which began with the 2019 Portland Handicap at Doncaster and culminated in the July Cup.
The Mayson gelding was then beaten just a length in the British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot and, on his only subsequent appearance, was hindered by a wide draw a trip when midfield in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint in Saudi Arabia.
Oxted was drawn in stall one when winning this race last season and has this time been dealt rather a different hand – widest of all in seven.
“It is a bit different to last year, but there are only seven runners,” said Teal.
“You can’t change it, and it’s not a disaster.
“He’ll love the good ground, so that won’t be a bother either. I’d love to have been drawn a bit lower, but that is what it is.
“He is well, we’re very happy with him – so fingers crossed for a big run.”
Leading the opposition is David O’Meara’s Summerghand, who returns to the turf after winning the All-Weather Sprint Championships Final at Lingfield on Good Friday.
The seven-year-old, busy on synthetic surfaces since February and on the turf at Doncaster last month, has race fitness and a handy draw on his side.
“He’s in good form, he won on the finals day at Lingfield recently,” said O’Meara.
“He’s come out of the race well. He goes well at Newmarket and he’s won there in the past.
“He’s been running through the winter and he won recently, so he’s shown he’s in good form.
“I suppose if we were ever going to have a chance of beating the likes of Oxted, it might be on his first run of the season when we’ve got a few runs under our belt.”
The field of seven also features Karl Burke’s Exalted Angel, who finished just a head behind Summerghand at Lingfield, and the Andrew Balding-trained grey Shine So Bright.
Kevin Ryan is represented by Emaraaty Ana, second ahead of Summerghand in the Listed Cammidge Trophy on his seasonal return, with Henry Candy’s Jouska and John Ryan’s Marly also taking their chances.