€52,000 Saônois (L) Polytrack Challenge: Hooking, undisputed all-weather king of the Riviera

11 February 2024

Hooking à Cagnes-sur-Mer

Photograph Couleur Casaques

Sunday, February 11, 2024, Côte d’Azur Racecourse (Cagnes-sur-Mer) – Three contenders stood out before the €52,000 Prix Saônois (L), a 1,600m/1m AWT race that also served as the finale of the "Mile" section of the brand new Polytrack Challenge sponsored by Martin Collins surfaces.

Having already secured victory in the "Classic" section at the Grand Prix de la Riviera fifteen days earlier, Hooking (Lope de Vega) carried an additional two kilograms against the favourite Wally (Siyouni), who had impressively won for the third time on this track lately, while Fast Raaj (Iffraaj), a previous winner of a challenge leg at Deauville, also had to give weight.

Winner of the two aforementioned races last winter, Hooking raced on the outside of early leaders Precious Sea (Sea the Stars) and Tempus (Kingman), fending off all challenges, initially from Wally, who had travelled behind the leaders, and then from Fast Raaj, who made a late surge from the back in a race perhaps less competitive than anticipated.

Ultimately, Fast Raaj clinched second place from Wally, who nonetheless kept going to the wire, but finished nearly a length behind a dominant Hooking under the colours of Ecurie Griezmann.

As the first purchase by the international footballer Antoine Griezmann, Hooking was acquired for €97,000 at Deauville by his trainer from Haras de la Pérelle in October 2017. His dam, Quanzhou (Dubawi), is a sister to the stayer Mille et Mille (Muthathir), a Prix du Cadran (Gr1) winner.

Competing in his 39th race and participating in his seventh racing season, Hooking is nearing €500,000 in earnings and prizes, arguably in his prime after alternating between handicaps and Listed races. He placed twice at Group level last year, securing second in La Coupe (Gr3) at Longchamp and fourth in the Grand Prix de Vichy (Gr3). He now remains unbeaten in five outings at Cagnes-sur-Mer.

With this victory in the finale of the second Polytrack Challenge section, Hooking also secures the €30,000 winner's bonus for the second time, bringing his earnings this winter at Cagnes to nearly €140,000! Fast Raaj finishes second in this section with a win, a second place, and a fifth place, totalling 95 points. He would have tied with Hooking with a fourth place in the second leg… His connections still pockets a €10,000 bonus.

Hooking has a four-year-old winning sister in training with Andreas Schütz, a three-year-old by Wootton Bassett still maiden with Francis-Henri Graffard, under the colours of his breeder Haras de la Pérelle, and a two-year-old by Oasis Dream exported to the Czech Republic after being purchased for €80,000 at Deauville last October.