Dane O’Neill could step in to ride Battaash in the Prix de L’Abbaye de Longchamp if regular jockey Jim Crowley is ruled out by Covid-19 quarantine rules
- Any British-based jockey must self-isolate for eight days after the Paris meeting
- That would rule them out of the Future Champions meeting at Newmarket
- Crowley would expect to have a clutch of top rides including Albasheer
Dane O’Neill could step in for the ride on Battaash in the Prix de L’Abbaye de Longchamp a week on Sunday unless Covid-19 quarantine rules change, according to the sprinter’s trainer Charlie Hills.
Under elite athlete regulations, any British-based jockey in action at the Paris track on Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe day must self-isolate for eight days on his return to the UK as well as taking two tests for coronavirus before he or she can ride again.
That rules them out of the Future Champions meeting at Newmarket where Jim Crowley, Battaash’s regular partner and first jockey to his owner Sheik Hamdan Al Maktoum, would expect to have a clutch of top rides including Albasheer in the Dewhurst Stakes.
Dane O’Neill last rode Battaash (above) when he won the Temple Stakes at Haydock in 2018
O’Neill, second jockey to Sheik Hamdan, last rode Battaash when he won the Temple Stakes at Haydock on his seasonal debut in 2018. He has ridden the gelding five times in races, winning three.
Hills said: ‘There is talk Dane might ride him because of the quarantine situation coming back from France. I doubt that situation will change. Dane has a good record on the horse and he rides him at home.
‘It looks like we will fly Battaash out there. That’s what we have done in the past. I probably will not be there so it will be a strange one.’
Battaash has won all his three races this season, including the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Nunthorpe Stakes at York.
He will be trying to land the Prix de L’Abbaye for a second time, having won the race in 2017 at Chantilly.
Charlie Appleby-trained Space Blues will miss the Prix de La Foret at the Arc meeting, after being ruled out for the rest of the season with an injury.
Meanwhile, Newmarket have cancelled plans for 1,000 spectators to be admitted per day over the three days of the Cambridgeshire meeting which starts today after the Government tightened Covid-19 rules.
The potential prospect of no crowds in the next six months has led track owners, the Jockey Club, to revise the already significant financial hit they anticipate this year.
Chief executive Nevin Truesdale said: ‘Previously we had estimated that revenues at Jockey Club Racecourses would be down this year by around £75 million out of an annual turnover that is normally circa £200m. But that figure is being revised upwards on the basis we won’t have any level of spectators back from October 1.’