Roger Teal must draw up a new plan for Ocean Wind after learning his Cesarewitch Trial winner will not be allowed to run in the showpiece handicap itself over the same course and distance next month.
Sixth in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in March, the Teofilo colt finished third on his Flat debut at Lingfield in early August before returning to the Surrey track – switching from the all-weather to turf – to go a couple of places better three weeks later.
Ocean Wind was a hot favourite for his latest test at Newmarket – and following a runaway success on Saturday, several bookmakers slashed his odds and made him ante-post market leader for the Cesarewitch on October 10.
However, the British Horseracing Authority has since confirmed he is not eligible for the marathon handicap because he had not run three times on the Flat before the weights were released last week.
Teal said: “There’s no way they’re going to allow us in, unfortunately. They’re saying he had to have three runs (prior to the weights being released), even though he was given a handicap mark after his first two runs.
“He was given a handicap mark on the day the entry closed. If they’d flagged it up to me that he needed another run, we possibly could have got one into him, but no one notified us that he was a non-qualifier.
“Normally when you have a non-qualifier they ring you and tell you, but there’s been a breakdown in communication. I think it’s slipped through and was only picked up later on, which is annoying for me and the owners and everyone involved.
“I guess the rules are the rules. He won the trial so impressively, and it looked like he would have had a hell of a chance in the big race, but there’s nothing we can do, so we’ve just got to take our medicine.
“It’s just a blip really. He’s only a young horse and an exciting horse to go forward with, that’s for sure.”
With plans therefore thrown into disarray, the Lambourn-based trainer is unsure when and where Ocean Wind will make his next competitive appearance, but it seems unlikely he will return to the National Hunt sphere for a jumping career.
Teal added: “There’s a couple of options. I wanted to see what his handicap mark was today (Tuesday), and he’s rated 96.
“I’ll just have to have a look what’s in the programme book for him now. The trouble is there’s very few opportunities over a longer distance, so he might have to step back to a mile and a half. Ideally he wants a mile and six (furlongs) to two miles.
“He obviously started off in bumpers, but he’s still a colt and not very big, which is why we wanted to go down the Flat route to see how he coped with that – and obviously he’s coped well.
“The owner isn’t a massive jumping fan, and now he’s set his stall out on the Flat and looks like he’s going to be a high-quality stayer.
“I’m not sure what’s happening with the All-Weather Championships going forward, but you’ve got the Marathon if that all goes ahead, so we could look at that.
“Plans are a bit up in the air at the moment. It’s upsetting for everyone that he can’t run in the Cesarewitch, but it is what it is – and we’ll just have to brush ourselves off and get on with it.”