Richard Hughes believes that patience could be Strong Suit

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Richard Hughes believes that patience could be Strong Suit
After a season when Richard Hannon’s two-year-olds could do little wrong the sight of the best of them being beaten has left the trainer mystified.
Strong Suit went into the Group One Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday unbeaten in two starts and the market leader for next season’s 2000 Guineas. But he came away from Ireland having been beaten a half-length into third by Zoffany.
The sense of disbelief for Hannon, who has never disguised his regard for the colt, was compounded by the fact that Strong Suit (pictured right) had beaten the winner by eight-and-a-quarter lengths when he won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
Speaking on his website the trainer said: “We had Strong Suit scoped by my vet, Mike O'Gorman, when he got back from Ireland and he was as clean as a whistle. Maybe something will come to light in the next few days, but, while we hate making excuses, he clearly did not run up to his Royal Ascot form as he had beaten Zoffany eight lengths in the Coventry Stakes.
“It could be that Zoffany did not run his race that day and he has now won three times since, so perhaps we have just bumped into a better horse. But, having seen Strong Suit’s final gallop, I remain convinced that he is better than he looked in Ireland, where he was in trouble before they got to the furlong-pole.
“Strong Suit does not have the electric gear-change of Canford Cliffs, but for three months now we have thought that he was the best of our 100-plus two-year-olds, and, though we have plenty of other good ‘uns, I still find it hard to believe that he is not top of the pile. He is entered in both the Middle Park, the Dewhurst and also that £400,000 Sales race at Doncaster, but we’ll give him an easy week and see how he bounces back before making firm plans.”
Richard Hughes now believes that the plans that he made before the race may have backfired. The jockey, who is riding on the crest of a wave after a string of high-profile winners in the past two months, has analysed the race and thinks that Strong Suit was simply not used to being committed to the lead so early in the contest. “The reaction was that he’ll scope bad and he didn’t so it was probably riding him up handy. He doesn’t like hitting the front.
“The first time he got to the front inside the furlong pole at Newbury – and that was lovely. Then he went to Ascot and he went down a bit keen. So I said I’ll drop him in, didn’t want him running keen at Ascot. And then I got shuffled around a bit – naturally I had to hold him up – and then I ran up someone’s backside and I ended up coming late on him.
“At the Curragh I was drawn six at and I thought he’s the best horse in the race, I’ll keep it simple. So I jumped and sat upsides in front. And he was cantering at the two but as soon as I hit the front I thought ‘oh-oh, I ain’t going to win’ – I knew at the furlong pole I wouldn’t win and the nearer I got to the line the more he stopped.
“Gut reaction was that he mustn’t be right but, in hindsight, he’s another one to come late,” he said, adding with a laugh “more hassle”.
“That’s what happens with those talented horses. They do it so easy, nothing leads them at home, so they always have to sit in behind and get one to give them a lead and go by them at the end. I think they get used to it – I’ve done my job now, I’ll pull up.”
Hannon has pulled up plans to run d**k Turpin in France on Sunday in favour of a crack at the Group One Juddmonte International Stakes at York on Tuesday.
d**k Turpin, who finally gained a deserved Group One victory in the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly last month, was due to run in the Group Two Prix Guillaume d’Ornano in Deauville on Sunday, which would have be his first attempt at a mile-and-a-quarter. He has now been supplemented for the International, at a cost of £60,000.
“I was asked for my opinion and it's a very brave decision from John [Manley the owner]. It's really made the race," Hughes said. "We were thinking about running him in France with a 7lb penalty and my thought was if you're not going to stay over a mile-and-two it may as well be against the big boys.
I'm of the belief he'll stay and he's given me all the vibes by sitting on him that he'll stay. At the same time I'll ride him to get the trip, there's no point going there and kicking on three out. If he has a turn of foot over a mile-and-two he's going to be a serious horse."



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