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Lancashire Telegraph racing column
7:00am Wednesday 11th December 2013 in Sport
Hoof It may not have reached the heights he once promised, but he has been running well in defeat for much of this season and is capable of defying top-weight in the Compare Bookmakers At bookmakers.co.uk Handicap at Lingfield.
Mick Easterby’s six-year-old looked destined for the top of the sprinting division following a fantastic 2011 campaign, during which he carried a big weight to a brilliant victory in the Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood before being beaten a neck into third in the Sprint Cup at Haydock.
The following year proved to be a complete disaster, with Hoof It making just two appearances in a season ruined by injury.
It seemed his racing days could be coming to an end as he finished held in races at York, Goodwood and Ripon on his first three starts this year, but he dramatically turned the corner when third in the Sprint Cup again and he has regained his consistency since.
Good efforts in the Ayr Gold Cup, the Bengough Stakes and the British Champions Sprint at Ascot and the Wentworth Stakes at Doncaster have seen the speedster retain his three-figure rating and he now switches back to a handicap with sound claims.
It is his first start on an artificial surface, but if he does take to underfoot conditions and gets a good position, he certainly has the class to snap his long losing run.
Vermont lost little in defeat when narrowly held here last month and can go one better on his return to the track in the Coral Mobile “Just Three Clicks To Bet” Median Auction Maiden Stakes.
The three-year-old looked a highly promising recruit when just losing out to the talented Vital Evidence on his racecourse debut at Sandown in mid-June, but he has been expensive to follow since.
He let down favourite backers on his next three starts at Newmarket, Pontefract and Nottingham, but ran respectably on each occasion all the same, with the ground perhaps a touch quicker than he would have preferred.
Switched to the all-weather for the first time a month ago, his first start since being gelded, Vermont went down by a short-head to Hawker, certainly his best effort since that excellent introduction at Sandown.
He sets a fair standard in a maiden such as this with a mark of 82 and connections will surely be disappointed if he is unable to finally get his head in front.
The best bet at Kempton’s twilght fixture is Marco Botti’s Quiet Warrior, who goes in the opening Book Now For Boxing Day Median Auction Maiden Stakes.
The Kodiac gelding was beaten just a neck on his debut here last month and with that experience under his belt, should go one better.
Regal Encore is undoubtedly the star attraction at Hexham and it will be a major surprise if he does not return to the winner’s enclosure after the Hexham Bookmakers “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
Anthony Honeyball’s stable star was among the leading hopes for last season’s Champion Bumper following two facile victories in that sphere and ran a fantastic race to fill the runner-up spot behind the exciting Briar Hill.
His supporters had their fingers burnt when he was turned over at odds-on on his hurdling debut at Aintree at the end of October, but he was far from disgraced and the winner, Garde La Victoire, could be something special judged on his subsequent triumph at Warwick.
Regal Encore himself stepped up on that initial effort when jumping far better en-route to the cheekiest of victories at Plumpton last month and with further progress likely, he will surely have too many gears for his rivals in Northumberland, with Tony McCoy travelling north for the ride.
Romany Ryme is the pick in the Thank You Nova International Maiden Hurdle.
He was not beaten far at this track last month and his consistency should be rewarded.
The Racing Excellence Training Series Conditional Jockeys’ Novices’ Hurdle at Leicester looks a good opportunity for Algernon Pazham to open his account at the fourth attempt.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained four-year-old shaped with plenty of promise when placed in bumpers at Huntingdon and Stratford in the spring and found only the high-class Dubai Prince too strong on his jumping debut at Leicester in the middle of last month.
There does not appear to be anything of that quality on his return to the Midlands.
DUNDALK: 6.20 Knock Stars, 6.50 Elusive Ice, 7.20 Hardstone, 7.50 Mountain Coral, 8.20 Stynes, 8.50 Vim, 9.20 Echua.
HEXHAM: 12.50 Regal Encore, 1.20 Romany Ryme, 1.50 Honest John, 2.20 Pamak D’Airy, 2.50 Sam Lord, 3.20 Cottiers Den.
KEMPTON: 3.40 Quiet Warrior, 4.10 Great Conquest, 4.40 Fine Vintage, 5.10 Raging Bob, 5.40 Irish Tears, 6.10 Shelford, 6.40 Halfsin, 7.10 Little Indian.
LEICESTER: 12.40 Algernon Pazham, 1.10 Theatrelands, 1.40 Chankillo, 2.10 Little Chip 2.40 Bertie’s Desire, 3.10 Cloudy Bob.
LINGFIELD: 12.30 The Mongoose, 1.00 Vermont, 1.30 Singzak, 2.00 The Great Gabrial, 2.30 HOOF IT (NAP), 3.00 Keene, 3.30 Uncle Dermot.
DOUBLE: Hoof It and Vermont.
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