Racing: Swinburn switch to Hopper

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The Independent Online
JOCKEYS usually like it when a horse is travelling well underneath them. Yesterday Pat Eddery did not.

Shirley Valentine's fluent performance on the Newmarket gallops and confirmation that she is in shape for the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock on Saturday means that Eddery will be unable to resume his partnership with the Maktoum Al Maktoum-owned Rock Hopper in the Eclipse Stakes the same day.

Walter Swinburn, who had been due to ride the Sheikh's Twist And Turn at Sandown, promptly jumped saddles and will now be on Rock Hopper. The ride on Twist And Turn is officially still available, but Bruce Raymond, the jockey originally down to ride the Maktoum third-string and pacemaker Mellaby, is likely to take over. Swinburn has already ridden Rock Hopper this season, when the partnership finished fifth in the Jockey Club Stakes. Eddery's contract with Khalid Abdullah means he will be in Lancashire for Shirley Valentine and Matador.

'Of course it's a bit disappointing to miss the ride on Rock Hopper,' Terry Ellis, Eddery's agent and brother-in-law, said yesterday. 'He's a smashing horse and Pat gets on so well with him, but it's not as if he's going to Haydock to ride two no-hopers.'

The new riding arrangements for Rock Hopper confused the bookmakers. Ladbrokes brought the colt in to 6-1 (from 8-1), while Coral lengthened him to 6-1 (from 5-1). William Hill came into line with the other members of the Big Three by cutting Kooyonga to 5-2 favouritism (from 11-4).

The participation of Zoman, who worked well yesterday morning, is still in doubt and Paul Cole will not commit his colt if the ground is too firm.

Foreign missions are still in mind for Zoman, who, like fellow European backpackers Snurge and Ruby Tiger, has kept Whatcombe ticking over in recent years. 'Having these big-money earners in the yard is what keeps us going,' Cole said yesterday. 'With these older horses you've got to keep them sweet, keep them sound and keep them going.

'The money is desperate in racing here at the moment. For example, the July Stakes (next week's Group Three race at Newmarket) is pounds 18,000 added, while you get Listed races in Italy worth nearly pounds 40,000. If you want to stay on in you've got to go out there and earn some money.'

Cole's intention this year is to get Snurge, who runs next in Dusseldorf, into the millionaires' club he has already established with Generous and Ibn Bey. Zoman and Ruby Tiger, who will also take in Germany next time, are both approaching pounds 500,000 in earnings.

Ruby Tiger, second in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday, is expected to have a fruitful campaign despite being a sufferer from leg problems and a condition which Tarzan might try to avoid.

'I had a lot of trouble training her earlier on with silly things like overreaches and mud fever,' Cole said. 'But she's in good form and, setbacks permitting, she's going to have a very good season.'

Other stable globetrotters will be the Derby disappointment Great Palm, who takes in Saint-Cloud's Prix Eugene Adam in two weeks' time, and Culture Vulture, who has September's Prix du Moulin at Longchamp as a target after a summer of recovery from her exertions in Royal Ascot's Coronation Stakes. 'She's having a break in a field at the moment,' Cole said. 'I hope she's not getting too wet.'

Plans for Dilum, who had been expected to run in next week's July Cup, are less certain after Cole watched a video of the colt's victory in a seven-furlong Group race at Longchamp on Saturday and detected him doing all his fast-forward in the closing stages.

'I saw his tape this morning and although he had it won at six, he drew away four lengths in the last furlong so he could well go for the Sussex Stakes,' the trainer said. 'But I don't really want to run him at Goodwood as I haven't had much luck there with my good horses so I just don't know.'

ECLIPSE STAKES (Sandown, Saturday): Coral: 5-2 Kooyonga, 5-1 Muhtarram, 6-1 Rock Hopper, 13-2 Opera House, 7-1 Twist And Turn, 10-1 Terimon & Zoman; Ladbrokes: 5-2 Kooyonga, 9-2 Muhtarram, 6-1 Rock Hopper, 8-1 Zoman, 9-1 Opera House & Terimon, 10-1 Arcangues, Twist And Turn & Young Buster, 14- 1 Sapience.

(Photograph omitted)

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