Charlie Appleby has put the call out to an old friend to help him through the summer with Kerrin McEvoy set to ride for Godolphin while William Buick is sidelined with injury.
McEvoy, 38, will be in action at Royal Ascot next week and will remain in Britain until the July festival at Newmarket, as Derby-winning jockey Buick continues his recovery from post head-injury syndrome sustained when falling on the way to the start at Ascot last month.
Royal Ascot had been on the agenda for McEvoy anyway with the rider, who spent four years in Britain in the early 2000s when he would regularly travel to the races with Appleby, due to partner Houtzen in what is set to be a red-hot edition of the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday.
Winning combination - Kerrin McEvoy and Charlie Appleby, picture Quentinjlang.com
However, McEvoy has been encouraged to stay on beyond the royal meeting and said on Tuesday: “I was always coming to ride Houtzen in the King’s Stand and with the disappointing news about William, Charlie said it may be worthwhile hanging on for a little bit longer so I can ride a few for them. It’s only going to be for a short period – two or three weeks I’d have thought.
“I’m hoping to get up [to Britain] later in the week, I’m just waiting for my visa to come through. It’s great to be back for Royal Ascot as I haven’t been involved there for a few years now.”
With Buick out of action, Appleby confirmed last weekend that James Doyle would be operating as his stable’s main rider for Royal Ascot.
McEvoy was uncertain what rides he could be in line for next week, but he won the Lexus Melbourne Cup on Gold Cup-bound Cross Counter for Appleby last year and is unsurprisingly keen to renew the association.
McEvoy is relishing the chance to try and add to his three Royal Ascot successes, especially if that comes by steering 25-1 shot Houtzen to victory in the King’s Stand Stakes. “It’s going to be a great occasion, it always is, and to be involved in one of the best races of the week is very exciting,” he said.
“There are some very talented local sprinters in Blue Point and Battaash, but my filly has always performed very well off a break and she’s had a good bit of time to acclimatise. I know they’re very happy with her.”
McEvoy is not the only Australian-based rider travelling over for the meeting, with the runaway 2018-19 New South Wales jockeys' premiership leader James McDonald also in line for some rides. He could partner Vanbrugh for old ally Charlie Hills if the horse runs in the Wokingham, while he will definitely be on Equilateral.
"Equilateral could well line up in the King's Stand," said Hills, who previously suggested his participation was 50-50. "I had a good chat yesterday with Prince Khalid Abdullah's racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe and he's happy to run if the ground is good, so we'll probably make a final decision on declaration day on Sunday, just so we know where we are with the ground.
"He's a horse I've always had a lot of time for and think he was unfortunate not to win his last start. He's got blistering pace and I'm sure he will run a big race wherever he goes next.
"I think it was a career-best last time and Mabs Cross is a very good sprinter, so just to be beaten by her was a great run.
"James McDonald is coming over for Royal Ascot and is going to be riding plenty of horses for Juddmonte. He rode the horse last year in the Commonwealth Cup, so knows him and I'm looking forward to him riding.
"He's superb and rode 100 winners in Sydney this season – he's one of the best jockeys in the world."