Friday 23 February 2018

Heffernan lands plum So You Think ride

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Having impressed many with a tactically astute steer on Misty For Me in the Pretty Polly Stakes last Saturday, Seamie Heffernan has been handed the plum mount on So You Think in tomorrow's Sandown showdown with Workforce.

Heffernan partnered the imposing Australian import to a bloodless victory on its debut for Aidan O'Brien at The Curragh in May, and he is also the horse's regular work rider at Ballydoyle.

Nonetheless, O'Brien's go-to jockey on the big days this term has been Ryan Moore, and it was Moore who rode So You Think in his last two outings, the partnership suffering a surprise defeat to Rewilding at Royal Ascot most recently.

With Moore committed to Workforce in tomorrow's Eclipse Stakes, a vacancy arose on So You Think once again. Yesterday morning, O'Brien's wife Anne Marie revealed riding plans for the Group One by tweeting: "So You Think will be declared for the Eclipse on Saturday and Seamus Heffernan will be declared to ride him."

The decision is a considerable expression of faith on O'Brien's part in the long-serving 38-year-old. It would also suggest that Kieren Fallon, who is on duty at Sandown but not in the Eclipse, has fallen out of favour with the Coolmore team.

Fallon had looked to be in a position to capitalise on the uncertain riding arrangements at Ballydoyle this year.

However, his services have not been called upon by O'Brien since the debacle that left the handler needing to fly Pat Smullen in as a last-minute Epsom Derby replacement on Recital.

With So You Think's massive global reputation having suffered a knock at Ascot, Heffernan's brief tomorrow -- in a five-runner affair that also features the Johnny Murtagh-ridden Snow Fairy -- will be to restore his standing as an equine colossus.

Yesterday, Duncan Ramage, spokesman for Dato Tan Chin Nam, the Malaysian businessman who retains an interest in the five-year-old despite Coolmore's purchase of a controlling share, was optimistic that he would leave the recent reversal behind.

"Every situation is a learning process, and I'm sure we can learn from Ascot, where things did not go entirely to plan," Ramage said. "Aidan said that he had left a bit behind coming into Ascot, so he'll be confident of having a strong horse at Sandown."

Frankel, this year's Classic generation sensation, is also reported to be none the worse for his Ascot exertions. Henry Cecil's colt just held out to maintain his unbeaten record in the St James's Palace Stakes under Tom Queally, and the Waterford-born jockey's uneven ride was subsequently the subject of much debate.

Ahead of Frankel's Sussex Stakes target at Goodwood later this month, Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Frankel's owner Khalid Abdulla, relayed that Cecil is pleased with the horse, while apparently doing little to defend Queally's position.

"He came out of the race very well. Henry was very pleased with him," Grimthorpe said, before adding of the Ascot race: "The really pleasing thing was that the horse just showed his class to do what he did. I thought it was, on the horse's point of view, an absolutely wonderful performance."

Irish Independent

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