O'Brien in line for So You Think ride
SO YOU THINK was yesterday installed 1/3 favourite for Saturday's Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown as speculation on whether Joseph O'Brien is to take the mount on the former Australian champion continued in the build-up to what will be a pivotal race for the colt.
O'Brien rode his second Group One winner at The Curragh when partnering Maybe to victory in last Sunday's Moyglare Stud Stakes with another accomplished display in the saddle. Earlier in the season he won the Irish 2,000 Guineas on Roderic O'Connor.
Seamie Heffernan was aboard So You Think when the son of High Chaparral defeated Workforce in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park on his most recent appearance.
However, despite a faultless display that day Heffernan was overlooked when stablemate St Nicholas Abbey ran in Ascot's King George. Young O'Brien was given the ride and, interestingly, he also regularly partners So You Think in his work at home.
Hence the guessing game over who will be given the leg-up this time has commenced with the countdown to the feature, which is to be run at 6.45. Officials are hoping the evening slot proves popular with racegoers and television viewers.
Just six have been confirmed for the Group One event and Aidan O'Brien is responsible for half the field, with 16/1 chances Recital and Roderic O'Connor joining So You Think.
Ed Dunlop will send Snow Fairy, the 5/1 second favourite with Paddy Power, while the remaining two are the Dermot Weld-trained Famous Name, at 10/1, and Kevin Prendergast's Dunboyne Express, a 33/1 chance.
Dunlop had originally hoped to run Snow Fairy at Deauville recently, but an obscure rule prevented the filly from taking her chance.
This is a much tougher stepping stone to targets later in the season and Dunlop will be hoping she does not have a really hard race.
For So You Think, though, this is the event that will decide whether he remains in the northern hemisphere this autumn or returns to Australia in an attempt to win a third Cox Plate at Moonee Valley. He became favourite for the Prix De L'Arc de Triomphe with some firms when Pour Moi was retired last weekend.
Ryan Moore, rider of So You Think when he won the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh in May, is to get the result today of crucial X-rays of his upper arm and shoulder, which he injured in a fall at Goodwood. They will decide whether he comes back for the Arc in early October.
Meanwhile, 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.
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. (© Daily Telegraph, London)