22 May 2024

‘Lovely surprise’ for Robert Havlin as he secures Ambiente Friendly ride

22 May 2024

Robert Havlin said it was “a lovely surprise” to be booked to ride leading Betfred Derby fancy Ambiente Friendly, replacing Callum Shepherd aboard the Epsom contender.

The James Fanshawe-trained colt was among the rank outsiders for the premier Classic until he ran riot in the Lingfield Derby Trial earlier this month.

He was partnered with aplomb by Shepherd on that occasion, but owners Bill and Tim Gredley have decided to replace him with the more experienced Havlin, who rode the second Group One winner of his career on Saturday when giving Audience a front-running ride.

It will be Havlin’s third ride in the Derby, with the 50-year-old spending the majority of his career connected to the John Gosden yard as Frankie Dettori’s understudy.

“It was a lovely surprise to pick the ride up and obviously I’ve got a lot of sympathy for Callum, I’ve been in that situation myself, as have plenty of other people,” said Havlin.

“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.

“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.”

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