EXPERT EYE will face eight rivals in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday - with Verbal Dexterity a notable absentee.
Sir Michael Stoute's Expert Eye is a red-hot favourite and his odds look set to shorten further following the defection of one of his principal rivals in the Jim Bolger-trained Verbal Dexterity.
Bolger spoke in glowing terms about his youngster following a dominant victory in the National Stakes at the Curragh and he was well fancied to provide the trainer with his sixth Dewhurst success.
But his trainer told Press Association Sport: "His scope wasn't clean this morning."
Asked whether Verbal Dexterity was now finished for the season, Bolger added: "I hope not. We'll be looking at the race in Saint-Cloud (Criterium International) and the Racing Post Trophy in Doncaster."
Despite Verbal Dexterity's enforced absence, the Glebe House handler is still represented in the Dewhurst with likely outsider Theobald.
Aidan O'Brien, who won the Dewhurst for the fifth time with this year's dual 2000 Guineas hero Churchill 12 months ago, has four contenders.
Middle Park Stakes scorer US Navy Flag is joined by Champagne Stakes-winning stablemate Seahenge, Mendelssohn and Threeandfourpence.
The Mark Johnston-trained Cardsharp, John Gosden's Emaraaty and Great Prospector from Richard Fahey's yard complete the line-up.