Sunday 17 December 2017

Luck of draw gives Hoof It the edge to stop Dettori's double dream

JA McGrath

It couldn't have happened in Fred Archer's day, nor even during Lester Piggott's reign, but Frankie Dettori will ride in Group One races on either side of the Irish Sea today.

He will partner Delegator in the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock Park then dash to the airstrip in the centre of the course before flying to Dublin, where he rides the brilliant Snow Fairy in the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Both mounts face strong opposition, particularly Snow Fairy, which comes up against red-hot favourite So You Think, but Dettori must have an outside chance of a double.

In Archer's time, of course, flying was out of the question and there were no Pattern races, while Piggott, who had access to both, would have found the 'off' times would have clashed. The feat is only possible for the first time because the Irish Champion will be run at 6.45, which is a gamble by officials to capture an early-evening audience.

At Haydock, Delegator has an excellent chance, provided the reported going -- good, good to firm in places -- is accurate. This talented five-year-old, which was runner-up to Sea The Stars in the English 2,000 Guineas two years ago, needs the ground to be like a road if he is to be at his best.


The draw was against him in the July Cup, yet he still ran on for a very solid fifth behind Dream Ahead. Again, the Godolphin horse has probably drawn on the wrong side of the track (5), particularly when well-fancied Hoof It (13) and Dream Ahead (9) appear to have had better luck.

Mick Easterby's Hoof It missed the kick slightly when favourite and only sixth in the Nunthorpe at York. Today's longer trip will definitely help him and I can see this progressive sprinter getting the money this time.

At Leopardstown, So You Think should win easily. The former Australian champion has not run since his gutsy win over Workforce in the Coral-Eclipse, but there may be a good reason for that.

Even before the Eclipse there was evidence that So You Think was still holding on to his Australian coat. His metabolism would have been preparing for another southern hemisphere winter, even though it was summer here.

With this in mind, I believe there is every chance that we have not yet seen the best of So You Think in Europe. Seamie Heffernan settled him and had him beautifully relaxed at Sandown and with his expertise in the saddle once again, I expect them to comfortably defeat Snow Fairy. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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