Havlin Replaces Shepherd On Leading Derby Hopeful Ambiente Friendly

Robert Havlin | PA Media

Robert Havlin has been booked to ride Ambiente Friendly (Ire) in the G1 Betfred Derby, replacing Callum Shepherd aboard the leading Epsom contender when the Classic is run on Saturday, June 1.

Trained by James Fanshawe, Ambiente Friendly has been ridden by Shepherd in both his previous starts this season, most notably in the Listed Lingfield Derby Trial S. earlier this month when he announced himself as a potentially top-class colt with an impressive four-and-a-half-length victory.

The son of Gleneagles (Ire) is now a best-priced 5/1 for the Derby and Havlin expressed his delight at being given the opportunity by owners Bill and Tim Gredley, with the call-up coming just days after he gained the second Group 1 success of a career spanning more than 30 years aboard Audience (GB) (Iffraaj {GB}) in Saturday's Lockinge S. at Newbury.

“It was a lovely surprise to pick the ride up and obviously I've got a lot of sympathy for Callum,” said Havlin. “I've been in that situation myself, as have plenty of other people. Unfortunately in this game it happens from the top to the bottom and somebody's good luck is always someone else's bad luck.

“My main interest now is to find out as much about the horse as possible before next Saturday. He's a lovely horse, you can feel he's got class about him. He takes hold of the bit. I know he runs in a ring bit, but it's handy in a race of this nature because you can get a position.”

Reflecting on what Ambiente Friendly has achieved in his career so far, Havlin added, “His profile is good, he's ultra-progressive. He obviously needed the run in the Feilden [when fourth] like every Newmarket horse did at that meeting, but you'd have to be impressed with the way he came down the hill, cornered and then picked up when asked at Lingfield.

“He ticks a lot of boxes. He has less questions to answer than some, he ticked nearly every box in one day. He's lightly-raced, a late-maturing type, and his best days are still in front of him.”

Tim Gredley told Tattersalls, “It's absolutely nothing more than it's a big day and we wanted to use someone with a lot of experience. Robert has ridden a few winners for us recently and is fresh off winning a Group 1 at the weekend so his confidence is high, it's nothing more than that. Callum has been brilliant and will still ride our horses–if he wants to.

“It's a big day for us and we wanted to make a call that we had someone who had dealt with this situation a lot of times, so that is the reason we went with Robert.

“He hadn't ridden him before, but strangely enough he was meant to ride him a couple of times at home but couldn't for whatever reason. I don't think he's a complicated horse and once he's away from Newmarket he will be fine. I'm hoping it will be a good fit.”

The change of rider sees Shepherd follow in the footsteps of several other jockeys who have lost a high-profile mount in the Derby in recent years.

In 2020, Tom Marquand was replaced by Frankie Dettori aboard leading fancy English King (Fr) (Camelot {GB}), while Dettori also picked up on the ride on John Leeper (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) in 2021 when he was due to be ridden by Adam Kirby. In the event, Kirby still won the race that year aboard Adayar (Ire) (Frankel {GB}), who in turn had been the intended mount of Oisin Murphy.

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