Hoof It takes second shot at top level


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The Independent Online

Hoof It, beaten favourite for the Nunthorpe Stakes at York 11 days ago, is to be given another chance at Group One level in the Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday. Mick Easterby's charge was yesterday added to the field for the six-furlong contest as a late entry and is one of 17 contenders at this stage for the £225,000 purse.

The four-year-old will have a different rider for the first time this year; Graham Gibbons will replace Kieren Fallon, who will be on duty for his retaining stable, that of Luca Cumani, at Ascot. Gibbons was in the saddle for a hat-trick of handicap victories last season before Fallon took over.

Hoof It earned his chance in elite company after an impressive success under top weight in the Goodwood Stewards' Cup and on the Knavesmire finished a creditable sixth, less than three lengths behind the winner Margot Did from an unfavourable draw when dropping back to the minimum trip. He has been introduced into the Haydock betting by the sponsors Betfred as a 6-1 third choice behind the 9-2 joint-favourites Deacon Blues, another recruit from classy handicaps, and Dream Ahead.

Northern journeyman Gibbons, on the mark on Sangar in the finale at Ripon yesterday, was delighted with his recall. "I've won on him a few times before and I'm sure that had a bearing on it," he said. "Things didn't really go right for the horse at York and the step back up to six furlongs can only help. It would be brilliant for me if he could go and win a Group One."

The division is still seeking its champion, with a different winner of each of the five Group One sprint prizes run in Europe so far this year. In fact, the only horse to have doubled up in any of the 15 lesser Group sprint races has been Deacon Blues, who followed his Wokingham Stakes victory with Group Three success at Newbury and the Curragh.

Of Saturday's entries Dream Ahead, winner of the July Cup, and Deacon Blues' stablemate Society Rock, who took the Golden Jubilee Stakes, have the chance of making it two at the top.

Just six were declared yesterday for the weekend's richest prize, the £750,000 Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday evening.

Turf Account

* Chris McGrath's Nap

Mirrored (4.10 Ripon)

Has been running with credit in stronger contests lately and, though he could have been better drawn today, is now back down to his last winning mark.

* Next best

Free Verse (2.50 Goodwood)

Undone by a sharp rise in class, a drop in trip and a poor draw on her second run, but the style and substance of her first win merit her another chance on her nursery debut.

* One to watch

Silenzio (Richard Hannon) was repeatedly stopped in his run on his first try over six furlongs earlier this month, finishing sixth with plenty still to offer.

* Where the money's going

Misty For Me is 11-8 favourite to win her fifth Group One in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.