Hoof It class can bring Fallon back to big time
Following the defection of last year's 100/1 winner Sole Power yesterday evening, Invincible Ash and Requinto are left to fly the flag for Irish-based horses in this afternoon's Nunthorpe at York.
Representing the sponsors Coolmore, the David Wachman-trained Requinto is an intriguing contender. Unbeaten in the three of his five starts that have come over this five-furlong trip, the Dansili colt is attempting to become the third two-year-old in 20 years to achieve glory in what is never less than a breathtaking spectacle.
A Goodwood Group Three winner, he receives between 19lbs and 24lbs from the opposition, and is as low as 6/1 second favourite to oblige. He is undoubtedly a serious sprinting proposition, but whether he will be able to take advantage of the concessions today under last year's successful pilot Wayne Lordan is another matter.
This is also Invincible Ash's first stab at a Group One. Mick Halford's six-year-old mare is a real money-spinner, but she has frequently looked just shy of this class.
Inxile, which gave her three pounds and a two-and-a-half-length beating when scoring for a fifth time this term at Tipperary last time, is a slightly more appealing each-way option at 22/1. He has pace to burn and will handle the slow ground, so must have a chance of delivering Dandy Nicholls a third victory in the prestigious dash.
The reality of the situation, however, is that 16 of the 17 runners could be playing for place money if the monstrous Hoof It really is as good as his most recent performance suggests he is.
Mick Easterby's fast-improving four-year-old turned in a devastating display to lump 10st to victory in the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood three weeks ago.
At York the previous week, the horse that is owned by Lee Westwood and his manager Chubby Chandler had collected in similar circumstances, but that he then doubled up under such a huge burden in a race as competitive as the Stewards' Cup was remarkable.
To put his achievement in perspective, Borderlescott and Patavellian won the Stewards' Cup off ratings of 95 and 102 before going on to Group One glory.
Indeed, when the brilliant Lochsong won the six-furlong race in 1992 before enjoying her first top-level triumph in the 1993 Nunthorpe, she did so off a mere 82. Hoof It trounced the field at Goodwood off no less a rating than 111.
In the process, he looked every inch the showpiece horse that Kieren Fallon has so desperately craved to validate his return to the big time. Despite dropping back to the minimum trip here, then, both horse and rider are fancied to record a landmark coup.
Earlier on the card, Aidan O'Brien saddles Reply in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes, a Group Two that he last won with Rock Of Gibraltar 10 years ago.
Reply finished fifth in the Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh last time, nearly a couple of lengths behind Lilbourne Lad in fourth.
That one re-opposes now for Richard Hannon, but is three pounds worse off with Reply, which may be enough to swing the balance of power in favour of the Ballydoyle horse. Having not run for three months prior to the Phoenix a fortnight ago, there might be a touch more to come from Colm O'Donoghue's mount.
O'Brien also saddles two debutants in the juvenile maiden. On pedigree, Athens, a Dylan Thomas half-brother to the stable's former inmates Admiralofthefleet and Lucifer Sam, looks the pick over Crusade.
2.0 Waldvogel 2.30 Reply
3.05 Nationalism 3.40 Hoof It
4.15 Athens 4.50 Shesastar