Megan Nicholls misses G1 ride on Rhythm Master over registration mix-up

Horse Racing Megan Nicholls jockey
Megan Nicholls: the apprentice had been looking forward to her first Group ride. Photo: Silk Series

By Jon Lees

GB: Apprentice jockey Megan Nicholls’s hopes of riding in Sunday’s G1 Prix Morny have been thwarted because she had not been registered to ride in France.

Nicholls was looking forward to riding the John Dance-owned Rhythm Master at Deauville, which would have been her first ride in a Group race, but was not declared on the Richard Fahey-trained colt on Friday.

Officials at France Galop refused to let the 3lb claimer ride because she had not been registered with the authority before Thursday’s declaration deadline for jockeys riding in France for the first time this year. Cristian Demuro will take Nicholls’s place in the big race which has attracted nine runners.

Horse Racing John Dance owner
John Dance: booked Cristian Demuro for Rhythm Master after Megan Nicholls was ruled out

“There was a bit of a panic an hour and a half before jockeys had to be finalised and when we made the declaration with Megan on board, she got thrown off,” said Dance. “They suggested it was too late for the registration.

“We tried to get PJ McDonald on board, who at the last minute committed to doing quarantine, but we couldn’t get him on either. It was something to do with the timing of trying to put a UK jockey on.”

Dance added: “It’s frustrating after making that commitment to Megan and it has all fallen apart at the last minute. Megan is devastated. I feel floored for her so I can’t imagine how she feels.”

According to the International Racing Bureau, visiting jockeys have to register with France Galop on an annual basis which must be done by declaration stage, which was on Thursday for Sunday’s Prix Morny. 

“Today was the last day of the cancellation stage for the race and France Galop won’t accept registration today,” said the IRB’s James Fry. “It had to have been done yesterday. PJ McDonald was in the same boat. He hasn’t ridden in France this year.”

The 23-year-old Nicholls, daughter of 11-time champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls, has never ridden above Listed level on the Flat and was prepared to take on the mandatory quarantine in order to ride Rhythm Master in France when she returned.

Rhythm Master, a 210,000gns son of Dark Angel,  has raced once, recording a stylish four and a quarter lengths debut win at Chepstow last month where he beat a field containing the Norfolk Stakes third Imperial Force.

Vote of confidence: Megan Nicholls set for first Group ride on Rhythm Master

He’s still got it! Alan Munro rides first stakes winner in South Korea

Nunthorpe: All you need to know as Battaash survives a scare to crown Crowley four-timer

‘It’s going to be a long fight’ – Filip Minarik wakes from coma and is set to begin rehab

Melbourne Cup hero Rekindling retired to stud after setback