Take Hoof It to Shake Them up
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1pt win Hoof It at 14/1 (General).
Bated Breath is a deserved favourite for the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday.
It is surely just a matter of time until the five year old gains a first Group One success and few would begrudge Roger Charlton's charge victory at racing's headquarters.
Following a Listed win in May 2011, he contested the Golden Jubilee Stakes where he finished fifth - beaten under three lengths - and has since finished second, ninth, second, second, eighth and second in his subsequent top flight outings and therein lies the problem.
He's had excuses for his two 'moderate' performances with the drop back to five seemingly against him at York and little going right in Hong Kong at the end of a long season but he's clearly vulnerable and doesn't make a great deal of punting appeal at a general 3/1 with the possibility of soft ground in this wet summer a concern.
True, there's no Dream Ahead nor Moonlight Cloud and the potentially interesting Dabirsim is also swerving the contest but, while there may not be a stand-out opponent, there are plenty of interesting alternatives.
Excelebration and Power are both potentially fascinating but the former had a hard race at Royal Ascot while the latter hasn't really lived up to expectations as a miler despite his Guineas success.
Society Rock has never really convinced at this venue while the fact that he has started slowly on each of his last two outings has to be a major concern although it's clear that he possesses the talent to be a factor.
One horse that also has the talent to be a factor at this level is Hoof It.
Mick Easterby's charge picked up three big handicap prizes last season and the fact that he was able to win a Stewards' Cup from a mark of 111 suggests that it's just a matter of time before he picks up a pattern prize.
Indeed, he came close to doing so on his final start of 2011 when beaten just a quarter of a length in the Sprint Cup at Haydock behind Dream Ahead and Bated Breath when sent off the same price as the runner-up.
The son of Monsieur Bond hasn't hit the heights in two starts this season but I'm not convinced that either run was quite as bad as has been made out.
He didn't travel with his usual fluency at York in May but still ran creditably in fifth with connections revealing that he may have been suffering from an infection.
Easterby wasn't happy with the gelding's scopes so opted to bypass Royal Ascot and give his stable star plenty of time to recover with the Darley July Cup immediately nominated as the next target.
His last run was merely a prep race for this contest and should have served its purpose despite Hoof It seemingly running below par in fifth behind Libranno.
However, the Criterion was his first start over seven furlongs since the end of 2010 and he palpably failed to see out the trip after racing keenly in the small field with Frankie Dettori far from hard on him.
That run will have taken the freshness out of him as well as proving to connections that he can handle the track and he's well worth chancing at 14/1 to return to the form that he showed last year.