Nathan Evans elated as Hoof It helps gift him Glorious Goodwood victory

TWO years after arriving from Ireland at the Ryedale stables of legendary trainer Mick Easterby, apprentice jockey Nathan Evans recorded the biggest win of his burgeoning career when Hoof It won the Qatar Stewards' Sprint on the final day of Glorious Goodwood.
Nathan Evans smiles after winning the Qatar Stewards Handicap at Goodwood aboard Hoof It (Picture: John Walton/PA Wire).Nathan Evans smiles after winning the Qatar Stewards Handicap at Goodwood aboard Hoof It (Picture: John Walton/PA Wire).
Nathan Evans smiles after winning the Qatar Stewards Handicap at Goodwood aboard Hoof It (Picture: John Walton/PA Wire).

Five years to the day after the sprinter, owned by golfer Lee Westwood and the Ryder Cup player’s agent Chubby Chandler, won the feature Stewards’ Cup, the victory – albeit in this consolation race – the remarkable resurgence continues of the nine-year-old gelding who has won two of his last three starts.

Hoof It’s 11th win from 51 career starts, the victory was the perfect 19th birthday present for Evans who rode his first winner at Thirsk in April last year and was recording his 28th success of the current campaign.

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“That was a lovely birthday present,” said an elated Evans whose mount just held off Paul Midgley’s fellow Yorkshire raider Related.

“To have a winner at Glorious Goodwood on Stewards’ Cup day, on Hoof It as well, is brilliant.

“He’s a great horse. He’s been good to me – it’s a dream. We came out of stall 11 and the boss deliberately chose as near to the inside as he could. We jumped out nicely but, for a long way, he didn’t travel that well for me.

“He stuck at it very well though. I don’t know why he loves it here so much. He’s getting old now – he’s a nine-year-old, and maybe a bit of cut in the ground suits him better nowadays. I think that helped him.

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“It’s unreal and I couldn’t ask to do it on a better horse – he’s just incredible. The boss is a great trainer and everyone in the yard who look after Hoof It does a great job to keep him right. We got racing quite early but he just keeps battling and staying on.”

Understandably, Evans has no regrets about crossing the Irish Sea. “I’ve showjumped all my life back home in Ireland, but I always wanted to get into racing,” he explained.

“I got an opportunity at Mick Easterby’s two years ago and I took that chance. The boss said come on a week’s trial and I’m still on my week’s trial. He’s a great man to work for is Michael.

“He’s very good, very fair and if you put in the work, he’ll give you the chances. I understand Mr Westwood is very busy playing golf out in America, but I’m sure I’ll speak to him soon. I’d like to thank him for the ride.”

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As for the feature Stewards’ Cup, Dancing Star became the first filly since the legendary Lochsong to win the six-furlong heritage handicap after the Andrew Balding-trained three-year-old, the joint bottom-weight, prevailed.

Like Lochsong, the 9-2 favourite is owned by Jeff Smith and hails from the same family, with her grand-dam, Lochangel, being a half-sister to the 1992 winner, who had been trained to perfection by Balding’s father Ian and ridden by Willie Carson.

She was always travelling kindly for her baby-faced jockey David Probert and accelerated away from the field in the final furlong in the style of a very good horse, recording a one-and-a-quarter length victory from runner-up Orion’s Bow.

“Chances like this are rare and it’s great to get one,” said Probert, a former joint champion apprentice who has had to work hard for his opportunities. “I was praying to the gods on Thursday that she would get in; she got a good draw, and she’s shown us what she’s got. These sort of opportunities don’t come along often.”

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As for Orion’s Bow, his Thirsk-based trainer Dandy Nicholls was sanguine after the horse’s five-race winning sequence came to an end. “I’m really proud of him,” he said. “I thought we had won and then I see this thing [Dancing Star] appear. You would’ve liked to have won but that is life.”

Meanwhile Mark Johnston was crowned Glorious Goodwood’s most successful trainer for the 10th time following the victory of Hawatif in the seven-furlong Qatar Handicap. The Middleham trainer was registering his fourth winner of the week and his 70th Festival winner overall.

The three-year-old daughter of Regal Applause always travelled well in the hands of Joe Fanning and kept on gamely inside the final furlong. A delighted Johnston said: “She is the type of horse I like to train as she is very consistent.”

The feature Group One Qatar Nassau Stakes for fillies went to Aidan O’Brien’s stable star Minding. However, a reappearance at this month’s Ebor festival at York, either in the Juddmonte International or Yorkshire Oaks, looks unlikely as Ryan Moore’s mount is likely to have a short lay-off.