We tell the story of how he became one of the country's favourite racehorses.
In October 2008 a bay yearling colt, known only as Lot 171, arrived at New House Farm, Sheriff Hutton, from Goffs Doncaster sales ring having been purchased for £14,000. He was bought by David Easterby although David's father, legendary racehorse trainer Michael Easterby, claims to have had a hand in the purchase. "David and I bought him together" is the official line.
The colt's sire was the young stallion Monsieur Bond, winner of the 2004 Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes. His dam was the unraced Forever Bond, a daughter of Danetime. There was little form to go on, although Forever Bond's 2005 offspring by Choisir, Chosen Forever, had won earlier in the year first time out at Doncaster.
At the time he looked a good purchase, a bargain, from a winning family and with lots of scope to grow into a big strong sprinter. He had potential, but the next decade would show him develop in a way that exceeded everyone's expectations!
Destined to run in the colours of golfer Lee Westwood and his manager Andrew "Chubby" Chandler, he was given the name "Hoof It" and after showing promise in his early training he made his debut at Doncaster in June 2009, finishing well after being hampered at the start to take fourth place. Another fourth place finish at York on his second outing was followed up with a victory at Newcastle, losing his maiden tag in the hands of David Allan. He was then put away for the season with a three year old campaign now in mind.
He was always going to be a better horse at three, according to his trainer.
Hoof It thrived during the autumn and winter of 2009, returning in handicap company at Thirsk over seven and a half furlongs off a mark of 68. Dropped back in trip to the minimum five, he won at Beverley off a rating of 66, powering up the hill to score readily. Victories at York and Haydock Park followed, all at the minimum trip and in the hands of Graham Gibbons, which saw Hoof It raised to a mark of 94 for his troubles. He signed off his three year old season with a third win, this time at Doncaster in October under Kieren Fallon, marking the first win for a partnership that would go on to bigger and better things.
Hoof It strengthened as he grew into his substantial frame and his four year old campaign was to be a revelation. He won first time out at the York Dante Festival, taking the sportingbet.com Stakes. It was one leg of a wonderful double as Thirteen Shivers also scored for the yard on the same card. Back on the Knavesmire in July Hoof It was first home in the Sky Bet Dash, collecting the £32,000 first prize again under Kieren Fallon. Expertly ridden he hit the front inside the final furlong and was greeted by huge roars from the Yorkshire crowd who had backed him into the 3-1 favourite.
His finest hour was yet to come and a week later he lined up for the Steward's Cup at Glorious Goodwood. Now racing off a mark of 111 he led a furlong out and romped home by two and a half lengths to record a fabulous and emphatic win. Hoof It's jockey Kieren Fallon said afterwards: "This horse is a monster. I was getting to them too easy between the three and the two and so I thought I'd better go and get the rail as I was going to have to take it up sooner than I wanted. He is still a big baby and has a big future, a Group 1 horse one day."
Hoof It had carried a top weight of 10 stone to victory and torn up the record books in the process. Mick Easterby led the applause and went up to collect the winners trophy. Asked what was next, maybe the Nunthorpe, he admitted that Hoof It wasn't in the race. However, it was time to dig deep and Hoof It was supplemented for the Knavesmire Group 1 sprint at a cost of £20,000. It's not every day that you have a sprinter with a real live chance of winning a Group 1 on your home track!
Hoof It attracted considerable attention in the racing press and even the nationals before tackling the Nunthorpe at York in August. Mick Easterby summed up his thoughts of Hoof It when interviewed for The Observer newspaper. "He's like some of these lads, yobs. If he didn't have plenty of nice, long work, he'd be the same. I've rechristened him 'the Wonderhorse'."
Co-owner Chubby Chandler said before the race "We can't believe the way the horse has progressed. At Goodwood there were 27 Amir Khans and one Mike Tyson. We had Mike Tyson because he's a brute. After the way Hoof It won the Stewards Cup, Lee and I felt it was worth paying the supplementary entry fee for York".
On the Knavesmire in front of a huge Ebor Festival crowd, Hoof It finished a creditable sixth in the Nunthorpe, beaten just two lengths in Group 1 company. Another Group 1 beckoned in September, and a third place finish in the Haydock Park Sprint Cup. Hoof It was beaten only a quarter of a length in possibly the best run of his career to date.
Hoof It was seen only twice on the racecourse in 2012, a season which saw him sidelined for most of the campaign. He had been plagued by injury and had several operations. His eyesight in his right eye is also poor, we don't know quite how much he can see, but it doesn't seem to bother him. However, the battle hardened warrior returned the following season, but he was weighted up to the hilt, and saddled with a handicap mark of 112 at the start of the year he remained winless in 2013. A barren year followed in 2014, but as the handicap mark dropped we all knew he would strike again.
And strike again he did! It was just a matter of time. In September 2015 Hoof It ran at Doncaster, a six and a half furlong class 2 handicap, ridden by Graham Gibbons. Sent off at 6-1, and a full two stone below his career high mark of 119, he became one of the most popular Easterby winners in years. Many of the staff had a tear or two in their eye when Hoof It was led into the winners enclosure after four years without a victory.
The winning habit was to continue in 2016, a landmark year for the Easterby yard, in which a record 62 flat winners were sent out from the legendary Sheriff Hutton base. In July Hoof It was a winner at Haydock Park, this time on soft ground. As he has got older he has been able to let himself down on the soft ground and can now handle cut. Better was to come, and later the same month at Goodwood, this time on fast ground, Hoof It won the Steward's Sprint Stakes, the consolation race for the Stewards Cup which he had won five years previously, and the first prize of £46,000 was secured. Hoof It's new partner was talented young apprentice Nathan Evans, recording his second win in the month on the nine year old. Throughout his career Hoof It was had three main partners in crime - Graham Gibbons, Kieren Fallon and now Nathan Evans. Once horse and jockey have bonded there appears to be no stopping the successful combinations.
Hoof It ran consistently in 2017 but was not able to add to his tally, and he is now back in training as an eleven year old. He made his reappearance at Pontefract in 2018 and is in good health and will be seen on the track over the summer. He enjoys his training and in the summer after a morning gallop he shares the paddock with his two ladyfriends Carlton Frankie and Aphaea.
To date Hoof It has collected over £370,000 in prizemoney, having won 11 races. Not bad for a horse that cost £14,000 and has treated his owners to winning days out the top tracks, winning top handicaps and contesting Group 1 races.
In doing so he has captured the hearts of the racing public, and become one of the most recognised and popular sprinters in the country, regularly receiving messages and good wishes from his ever expanding army of fans.