Racing: Hind emerges from the lower ranks for Shantou

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The Independent Online
His name may sit rather prosaically among some of the giants of a small world, but that will not alarm the jockey named yesterday for Shantou in Saturday's King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes one jot. Cash Asmussen, Gary Stevens, Frankie Dettori and company will be joined in the Ascot changing room by one Gary Edward Patrick Hind, age 29, apprenticeship with Reg Hollinshead and first winner at Carlisle on Via Vitae.

Hind's promotion comes through his membership of the backroom team at John Gosden's Stanley House yard, where Shantou has his digs. He was considered fleetingly for the ride on Benny The Dip in the Derby until Willie Ryan's Classic experience became the most notable part of the equation, but now a similarly promising ride has presented itself.

Shantou was originally to have been ridden by Dettori, who is credited with being the only man who can twist the last drop of effort out of the four-year-old, but the Italian has subsequently been switched to the second favourite, Singspiel.

Shantou is famously crackers and cannot bear to have other horses around him on the gallops, which is a bit of a drawback when you happen to be trained in Newmarket. Hind has ridden him before and lost, but he is in good company as Pat Eddery and Michael Kinane have also failed to plug into the colt's eccentric mind.

"It's nice to be involved in these sort of races," Hind said yesterday. "It's what it's all about. I rode Shantou in a maiden at Chester last year and got beat on him. I rode his lead horse, Poltarf, in his recent work and Shantou seemed to go well."

The manning arrangements for Saturday are now complete. Ray Cochrane is due to ride Strategic Choice, who finished third in the race two years ago but is now considered a 50-1 virtual no-hoper in this weekend's particularly strong company. "We will have a serious crack at finishing fourth," said an optimistic Paul Cole, the six-year-old's trainer.

John Reid, the projected partner for Swain, returns to the saddle this evening at Sandown following a short absence. The Irishman jarred his right ankle at Newbury on Saturday when Dark Moondancer ejected him in the preliminaries, but the markets suggest that few believe that Reid's talents have been compromised by the accident. Swain is now a best-priced 12-1 (from a morning 16-1).

The most dramatic moves though yesterday centered on Swain's Godolphin stablemate Predappio, Pilsudski's conqueror in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, who was reduced to 8-1 (from 12-1) by Ladbrokes. Coral cut him to the same price (from 14-1), while William Hill go just 13-2 (from 12-1).

Pilsudski himself is still quite well fancied despite some dark assertions from Michael Stoute, his trainer, that the Breeders' Cup Turf winner might not run if the ground is too hard.

Whether this caveat is just a ploy to encourage Ascot to pour water on the track will become evident tomorrow evening when Stoute is scheduled to walk the course - described yesterday as good to firm - before delivering his final thoughts.

Any withdrawal would hurt the race, especially as Pilsudski, along with the favourite, Helissio, is said to be at the summit of his powers. The French horse, who is attempting to become the first from his land to win the race since Pawneese 21 years ago, will fly in from Beauvais airport on the morning of the race.


NAP: Asef Alhind

(Sandown 8.15)

NB: Kamenev

(Sandown 8.45)